In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter today, Ellen Pompeo – star of Greys Anatomy and all round awesome chick – shares some background on what it’s like as a woman in the TV Industry, negotiating a salary that she feels she deserves, the aftermath of Patrick Dempsey leaving the show and the #TimesUp movement.
Here are some of our favourite moments…
In the beginning, Ellen didn’t want to audition for Greys. Her heart was set on being a movie star. “I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years… Are you out of your fuckin’ mind? I’m an actress” she told her agent. In the end she only auditioned to pay the bills, and now 14 years later Greys Anatomy is still going strong and Ellen knows she made the right decision. She’s now dramatic-televisions highest paid actress with a contract paying over 20 million dollars a year!
Shonda Rhimes, creator of Greys Anatomy and friend of Ellen, has said “As a woman, what I know is you can’t approach anything from a point of view of ‘I don’t deserve’ or ‘I’m not going to ask for because I don’t want other people to get upset’… And I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world.”
Ellen is confident in her skills as an actress after 14 years on Greys, saying “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? Now, that’s a fuckin’ skill.”
In 2015, co-star Patrick Dempsey left the show causing mass controversy and chaos with fans wondering where Greys will go from there. Ellen’s response? “It’s my show; I’m the number one.”
In their years working together, Ellen tried to work with Dempsey to negotiate contracts together, but he’d never agree. At one point, she tried to negotiate earning 5K more than him because “the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey” but they refused.
“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. But the truth is, the ink wasn’t even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy…I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there.”
Today, Ellen produces, directs and acts in Greys thanks to the generosity of show creator Shonda Rhimes. Ellen approached her wanting more; wanting to have ownership of the show and her role and be more involved creatively. Having been loyal to Shonda for many years, they struck a deal to work together, which leads to Ellen’s 20 million dollar contract today!
Reflecting on recent events surrounding #TimesUp and #MeToo, Ellen shared “In the last few weeks, a lot of us actresses in town have been having these meetings [as part of the Time’s Up initiative]. We’ve been sharing stories and trying to figure out how we can promote change and use our voices to help other people. And I’ll tell you, sitting in rooms full of Oscar-winning actresses listening to how they’ve been preyed upon and assaulted is frightening.”
She tells the story of the time her agent sent her to meet Harvey Weinstein – revealing she’s confronted them since for sending her in alone knowing his reputation – but thankfully he never tried anything with her. “He didn’t try anything on me. Had he, I’m a little rough around the edges and I grew up around some very tough people, so I probably would have picked up a vase and cracked him over the fucking head. ”
Ellen finishes her interview with a summary of what she hopes for the future: “I don’t believe the only solution is more women in power, because power corrupts. It’s not necessarily a man or a woman thing. But there should be more of us women in power, and not just on Shonda Rhimes’ sets. ”
We love that Ellen Pompeo been so open and honest with The Hollywood Reporter about her career as an actress on Greys Anatomy, fighting for the salary she knows she deserves, the aftermath of Patrick Dempsey’s exit from the show and her fight for women to have more power in Hollywood!
Read the full interview with The Hollywood Reporter HERE.