Ellen Pompeo Says She Was Paid Less Than McDreamy, Even After Asking For A Raise

Pompeo said when Dempsey left the show, it wasn’t time to focus on Meredith Grey alone.

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 the truth is, the ink wasn’t even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy. I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rosé — and they’re calling me, going, “What do you think of this guy?” “What do you think of this guy?” And they’re sending pictures. I was like, “Are you people fucking nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?” I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn’t love the storyline, so that ended.

Pompeo had signed a new deal in 2017 with ABC that would make her the highest paid TV drama actress of all time. The deal–which brings in more than $20 million a year–has her earning $575,000 per episode. And, after playing the same character on a hit TV show for over 12 years, it’s well deserved. She credits most of her empowerment to none other than Shonda Rimes herself.

In Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me. And that took her a while to get to, too. It was part of her evolution. It’s also why our relationship is so special. I was always loyal to her, and she responds well to loyalty. So, she got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented.

Pompeo also opened up about women and empowerment that needs to come within society.