Ellen Pompeo, star of hit-TV series Grey’s Anatomy, has now become the highest paid actress on a prime time drama after signing two more seasons of the show. With a contract earning her about USD 20 million a year, Ellen has also been signed for the 15th and 16th season, though they have not been officially ordered by the makers.
And while actors usually shy away from discussing their paychecks in public, Pompeo believes that she can set an example for other women to stand up against the gender pay gap in Hollywood. She adds that that her paycheck wasn’t just handed to her, she had to fight hard for it, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Pompeo also acknowledges the fact that she knows what she is bringing to the popular medical drama. She now makes around 575,000 dollars per episode and completely rejects the idea that actresses who star in long-term TV roles are less “relevant.”
Talking about her being in the show for 14 years now, Pompeo says, “I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age. Because I’m not the most “relevant” actress out there. I know that’s the industry perception because I’ve been this character for 14 years. But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later?”
Pompeo also shared how when her former co-star Patrick Dempsey left the show in 2015, she knew she knew she could use it to her advantage. She says, “It was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me – ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ – which they did for years.” Pompeo also revealed how she tried to team up with Patrick to negotiate a better deal but he never agreed.
“At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one.”
Pompeo also revealed that it was the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes, who encouraged her to ask for more money.