After years of being paid less than her male counterpart, actor Ellen Pompeo has finally secured the pay she deserves for playing the title character on the hit Shonda Rhimes-created show “Grey’s Anatomy.”
According to Mashable, Pompeo shared her struggle to speak up and ask for payment equal to that of her male co-star Patrick Dempsey in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. At one point in her 14-year tenure on the show, Pompeo asked to be paid even just $5,000 more than Dempsey, as she is the series’ main character; however, as Mashable reports, her request was denied.
“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,” she said. “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.”
So how did Pompeo find the courage to ask again for the pay she deserved? Mashable says she in part found inspiration in Rhimes, who Pompeo said empowered her as the showrunner herself was “finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power.”
Now the “highest-paid actress on a primetime drama series, with a contract earning her about $20 million a year,” Mashable says Pompeo not only believes in the power of asking for what she deserves, she also believes in the power of her own talents.
“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,” she told THR. “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.”
To read the interview in its entirety, click here.