Ellen Pompeo Just Gave The Best Fucking Interview About Money & Power

Ellen Pompeo is incredible. I’m not sure that we as a society have fully appreciated just how incredible she is until right this very moment.

Obviously, she’s made us piss tears as Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy for over a decade.

But as it turns out, she’s been fighting hard for her worth this whole damn time.

She just gave the best fucking interview to The Hollywood Reporter about money, power and Grey’s Anatomy, and it is phenomenal. This isn’t us being dramatic. It’s incredible.

As THR notes, actors aren’t usually so candid about discussing pay. (FYI, Pompeo is now earning US $575,000 per episode, plus a a seven-figure signing bonus, plus producing fees, all of which will amount to her earning more than $20 million a year.)

But Pompeo? Oh no, she decided to fuck that right off and talk about what she’s worth.

Here’s just a small selection of some of the best quotes in her interview.

On leading one of the highest-earning television shows in history for 14 seasons:

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? Now, that’s a fuckin’ skill.

On asking for more money than co-star Patrick Dempsey, who played her love interest Derek Shepherd.

There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. 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. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, “I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.”

On him leaving the show.

For me, Patrick leaving the show [in 2015] 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


So, what does it look like when he leaves the show? First, it looks like a ratings spike, and I had a nice chuckle about that.

On the studio system that glorifies youth but leaves actress without a long-term financial plan.

I’m not necessarily perceived as successful, either, but a 24-year-old actress with a few big movies is, even though she’s probably being paid shit — certainly less than her male co-star and probably with no backend. And they’re going to pimp her out until she’s 33 or 34 and then she’s out like yesterday’s trash, and then what does she have to take care of herself? These poor girls have no real money, and the studio is making a fortune and parading them like ponies on a red carpet. I mean, Faye Dunaway is driving a fuckin’ Prius today. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a Prius, but my point is, she had no financial power. If we’re going to invoke change, that has to be part of it.

On knowing her worth.

But CAA compiled a list of stats for me, and Grey’s has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney. When your face and your voice have been part of something that’s generated $3 billion for one of the biggest corporations in the world, you start to feel like, “OK, maybe I do deserve a piece of this.”

On asking for what she’s worth.

What I said to [creator] Shonda [Rhimes] is the truth: “I don’t get to do anything else, and that’s frustrating for me creatively. I make 24 episodes of TV a year, and as part of this deal, I cannot appear anywhere else. And directing is cool but, to be honest, it just takes me away from my kids.” Then I said, “So, it’s got to be a ton of money.”

On the studio forcing another love interest on her almost immediately after Derek decided he was leaving.

I was like, “Are you people fucking nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?” I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there.

On actors behaving badly to get want they want.

There was all of this tumult on [the set]: It was a lot of rivalry, a lot of competition. It starts with actors behaving badly, and then producers enabling them to behave badly. And, by the way, I’m guilty of it, too. I saw squeaky wheels getting all the fucking grease, so I was like, “OK, that’s how you do it,” and I behaved badly as well. I mimicked what I saw. I’m not perfect.


On imbalances of power not being confined to the film and television industry.

I don’t know if you listened to Jay Z‘s latest album, but in one song he talks about how all the white guys own the record labels and they say to these artists, “Oh, here’s a $3 million advance,” while they’re making billions. The artists are chasing Grammys and Lamborghinis, so they think, “Oh yeah, I’m rich.” Meanwhile, Sony just made fucking $500 million, and they gave you $3 million and you think you’re doing amazing.

On Rhimes empowering her to assert her own power.

So, she got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented.


Speaking of Rhimes, she’s pretty stoked with Pompeo’s interview, btw.

Actually, everyone is.


And finally, we can all agree with Cristina Yang.

Whatever you’re doing in your life, pause it, because you need to go read the entire interview HERE, NOW, IMMEDIATELY.


Inspired by this completely boss moment? We chatted with Jane Lu, CEO of Showpo as part of our Founders University podcast series for more insight into how to totally kill it at life. Check it out below: