Ellen Pompeo says it’s ‘more rare to have women support women when you’re on top’

The Everett native is reportedly the highest-paid actress on a primetime drama thanks to a $20 million contract she signed in 2017.

Actress Ellen Pompeo attends the 300th "Grey's Anatomy" Episode Celebration on Nov. 4, 2017. –Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images, file

Back in January, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Everett native Ellen Pompeo became the highest-paid actress on a primetime drama when she signed a 2017 contract to continue playing Dr. Meredith Grey on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” The contract was reportedly worth $20 million per year, plus incentives.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly published Friday, Pompeo discussed how it was a “blessing” to be able to determine her exact worth to the show and ask for a commensurate raise. Pompeo said that for many people, it’s tough to be able to attach a specific dollar value to their job performance.


“It’s hard to quantify what you do in your workplace and how does that result in numbers,” Pompeo told the publication. “In my instance, I’m very fortunate where I actually do get to see how my presence directly impacts the money that the show makes. So I was in a pretty unique position to be able to speak on it.”

Pompeo also said that women need to get better at supporting women who are “on top” and not solely those who are victims. In March, Pompeo denied rumors that her salary bump led to two “Grey’s Anatomy” stars, Sarah Drew and Jessica Capshaw, departing the show at the end of season 14. (“Grey’s Anatomy” executive producer Krista Vernoff said in a statement in March that the show needed to “follow the stories where they want to go,” which sometimes meant “saying goodbye to characters we love.”)

“In my experience, I see that women are really quick to rush to other women’s aid when they’re down, when they’re a victim,” Pompeo told EW. “When there’s a victim situation and other women can come in like, ‘Let me help you,’ they can be empowered because they’re helping someone who’s down. It’s still more challenging to get women to support you when you’re actually on top and doing fantastic.”


“Grey’s Anatomy” will return for its 15th season with a pair of back-to-back episodes starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27.

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