Ellen Pompeo on Negotiating Her Way to Becoming TV’s Highest Paid Actress

(Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Ellen Pompeo is now television’s highest paid actress, earning more than $20 million a year in a new deal as star of the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” But as a new story in The Hollywood Reporter reveals, this milestone wasn’t easy to come by. Pompeo had to learn to become comfortable with negotiating for more money and navigate being pitted against her co-stars:

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. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. 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. 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.”

Read the story