“Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo details long path to “unprecedented” $20 million contract

ABC/Bob D’Amico(LOS ANGELES) — After nearly 15 years as the lead of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo will now be the highest-paid woman in TV. Her new deal has her making $575,000 per episode, or $20 million per year.

“I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “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 f*****g skill.”

Pompeo also spoke about how Patrick Dempsey leaving the show in 2015 helped put her in a more powerful position.

“They could always use him as leverage against me — ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ — which they did for years,” she says. “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 then, Pompeo continues, “The ink wasn’t even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy. I was on vacation…and they’re calling me, going, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ ‘What do you think of this guy?…I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there.”

Ultimately, Pompeo credits Grey‘s creator Shonda Rhimes for her new deal. 

“I was always loyal to her, and she responds well to loyalty,” says the actress. “So, she got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power.” 

Pompeo thanks Rhimes for “letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show…and signing off on the…unprecedented…deal that the studio gave me.”

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