Ellen Pompeo reveals how she emerged from the shadow of Patrick Dempsey to become TV's highest paid actress
In a recent interview, Ellen Pompeo opened up with the struggles she had to go through in order to get her rightful pay when compared to other actors.
There has been a long dispute about how there is a need to bring in equal pay for women as they do the same amount of work as the men do. While the struggle still continues, Ellen Pompeo, who is known for her role of Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy, has shown us how believing in oneself can make all the difference.
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Ellen opened up about the innumerable struggles that she had to constantly go on the set in order to demand an equal pay or rather, for the amount which she believed she is worthy of. In 2004, when things were not going right and Ellen was close to being broke, she had got the offer of auditioning for Grey's Anatomy. Even though she did not seem too pleased with the idea of being stuck in a medical show for five years, her agent convinced her that she should give it a go.
Little did she know that she was going to become the highest paid actress for the same show by signing a deal of "$20 million a year — $575,000 per episode, along with a seven-figure signing bonus and two full backend equity points on the series, estimated to bring in another $6 million to $7 million." However, things were never easy for her on the show as she was constantly reminded that she can easily be replaced on it even though the show basically revolved around her character.
But Ellen decided to take action after hearing what Shonda Rhimes had to tell her. Shonda's advice for Ellen was: "Decide what you think you're worth and then ask for what you think you're worth. Nobody's just going to give it to you." The one thing that made it easier for Ellen to reach her goal was Patrik Dempsey leaving the show.
Till the time Patrik was on the show, Ellen felt that no matter how much she tried to convince the producers that she should be paid equally, if not more than him, they would pay no attention to her. "For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick’ — which they did for years," she recalled.
Even though Ellen always had a chance of walking away and leaving the show, she knew she wouldn't because she knows that it is her show and she will get her way one way or the other. 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," she said.
Previously, there had been various reports that things between Patrick and Ellen were not always magical as it is on the show. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the Grey's Anatomy star had opened up about her feelings towards hearing that Patrick will no longer be part of the show. One could say that Ellen used her words carefully but might have hinted her true feelings while doing so.
"It's amazing how much you get done without a penis," Ellen said. There is a fair possibility that in her this interview, which was taken back in 2016, Ellen felt that the death of Patrick's character from the show can only bring her good. "I think a lot of people were really upset about his departure, which is super understandable, but I think the change is part of the reason the show goes on so long," she explained.
"People tune in to see, what does the show look like now? What is Meredith going to do without Derek? They get so upset about the change, but change is precisely what everyone always needs to sort of getting to the next place," she said. She also added that she seems to like work more after this incident. "I'm more engaged this season than I have been in a long time -- for the fans. I want to make sure the quality stays good and they're there for us. I want to be there for them."
Now that Ellen has become one of the highest paid actresses by finding her strength, she plans on encouraging women to do the same and not be afraid to ask what they believe they deserve.
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