Ellen Pompeo has played the iconic role of Meredith Grey on “Grey’s Anatomy” since the show’s beginning in 2005. And while a lot of her costars have ventured on to other acting roles, Pompeo is still with the show going into its 17th season this September.
“You know, I made choices to stay on the show,” Pompeo told Hill during the podcast. “For me, personally, a healthy home life was more important than career. I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood. So to have a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart.”
Pompeo continued to explain how her decision was to stay with the show and make money instead of to “chase creative acting roles,” adding, “I don’t like chasing anything ever, and acting to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing. You’ve got to chase roles, you’ve got to beg for roles, you’ve got to convince people.”
In 2018, Pompeo notably publicized her salary of $20 million, after she fought for her fair share for being the show’s lead.
According to E!, she explained, “I’m saying to myself, ‘Well, wait a second. This is my face. Now, yes, other people created the show, Shonda Rhimes created the show and that we’d be nowhere without that and the studio made the show and put the show on the air,” continuing, “I’m not saying people don’t deserve what they have — I’m just saying, ‘Why should all these people make hundreds of millions of dollars off of this, which I’m the face of, and I not get wealthy too from it?’”
Vanity Fair reported the actress has also stayed with the show for so long not just as a matter of financial security but also time and age.
“I got in the game late. I didn’t start ‘Grey’s’ until I was 33, and then I started having kids at 40,” Pompeo, a mother of three, said. “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.”
She noted that some actors “run away” from their roles they are famously known for, and she reiterated that it’s not the case for her.
“At my age and where my life is, I’m not trying to run away from anything. It is who I am. I made my choices and I’m cool with it.”
Pompeo has recognized that “Grey’s has been a gift. There’s some doors I can break open or at least start some conversations to do some good in the world.”