Ellen Pompeo reveals why she stayed on Grey's Anatomy for so long in 'refreshing' statement about TV industry
Jason Merritt/TERM / Getty Images

People are praising Grey's Anatomy actor Ellen Pompeo for acknowledging the role making money has had on her decision to remain on the show.

Pompeo has played Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy since its inception 15 years ago, while other cast members left over the years to pursue other opportunities.

Talking on the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast, she said:

I made choices to stay on the show. For me, a healthy home life was more important than career. 

I didn't grow up with a particularly happy childhood. So the idea that I had this great husband and these three beautiful children and a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart. 

And so I made a decision to make money and not chase creative acting roles. I don't like chasing anything ever, and acting to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing.

Pompeo further explained that her age influenced her decision to favour stability over chasing creative roles.

I got in the game late. I didn't start Grey's until I was 33, and then I started having kids at 40. 

If I started the show when I was younger, 25, I probably would have dipped out when I was 31, 32, when my six-year contract was up, but my age had a lot to do with it. 

I knew coming up on 40, it's like, I don't want to be out there chasing things, running after things, begging. I'd rather just see this as the blessing that it is.

People praised Pompeo for her "refreshing honesty and realism".

Pompeo has long been open about her earnings.

In 2018, she revealed she had negotiated a $20m salary, making her the highest paid actor in a drama series in the world.

During the first three series of Grey's Anatomy, Pompeo was paid half of what Patrick Dempsey, her onscreen love interest, was earning.

Pompeo demanded equal pay, something she alleged Dempsey wasn't interested in helping her with, and later began to rake in $575,000 per episode.

Pompeo has previously considered walking away from the series.

The actor revealed last year in a Variety interview that Grey's Anatomy had a "really toxic work environment" behind the scenes during its first decade.

After considering quitting, she decided to stay after the birth of her first child in the show's sixth series. She explained:

I had someone other than myself to think about. I thought, oh my goodness, at 40 years old, where am I ever gonna get this kind of money? And I need to take care of my kid, so I'm gonna stay.

Pompeo focussed her energy on making the show into something she could be "happy and proud" of, ultimately helping to implement behind-the-scenes changes from series 10.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)