Ellen Pompeo isn’t a doctor, but she plays one on TV. After 16 seasons of it, she’s very good at it.
A lot of Grey’s Anatomy stars from the early years have moved on — but Ellen explains the very simple reason why she has stayed with the show.
This week, Ellen Pompeop spoke on the Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast.
“You know, I made choices to stay on the show,” the veteran actress reflects.
“For me, personally, a healthy home life was more important than career,” she opines.
Ellen acknowledges: “I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood.”
“So,” she expresses, “the idea that I have this great husband and these three beautiful children [and] a happy home life was really something I needed to complete.”
Ellen explains that this was something that she needed “to close the hole in my heart.”
“And so I made a decision to make money,” Ellen continues, “and not chase creative acting roles.”
She affirms: “I don’t like chasing anything ever.”
Ellen reasons: “and acting to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing.”
On the subject of acting, Ellen details: “You’ve got to chase roles, you’ve got to beg for roles, you’ve got to convince people.”
“And although I produce and it’s the same kind of thing,” she says, “I think I still do it from a place of, I’m never that thirsty because I’m financially set.”
Reportedly, Ellen rakes in $575,000 per episode of Grey’s Anatomy in addition to a producing fee from Station 19.
Age, Ellen explains, was also a factor in why she has not wanted to rock the boat by jumping to new projects like some of her erstwhile castmates.
“I got in the game late,” Ellen acknowledges.
She spells out the timeline: “I didn’t start Grey’s until I was 33, and then I started having kids at 40.”
“If I’d started the show when I was younger, [like] 25,” she muses, “I probably would have dipped out when I was 31, 32.”
These, she explains, were the ages “[when] my six-year contract was up, but my age had a lot to do with it.”
“I knew coming up on 40, it’s like, I don’t want to be out there chasing things, running after things, begging,” Ellen said. “I’d rather just see this as the blessing that it is.”
Ellen does freely acknowledge that “it’s pretty common for actors to try to run away from stuff they’re super well-known for.”
“I understand that completely,” she states, “but at my age and where my life is, I just try to lean into it.”
“I’m not trying to run away from anything,” Ellen affirms. “It is who I am. I made my choices and I’m cool with it.”
“And I actually have a real passion,” Ellen says, referring to her drive beyond the scope of work.
“Which is to sort of start to talk about and break down systemic racism in the healthcare industry,” Ellen adds.
“This is something that has plagued us forever,” she correctly characterizes.
“And,” Ellen Pompeo reflects, “I think the show has given me a real window into that.”
“That’s a platform I’m very passionate about,” she says, “and I’m going to continue down that path and try to do more work in that arena.”
Ellen concludes: “So Grey’s has been a gift and I choose to see it that way.”