Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo explains her decision to come out with all the (admittedly juicy) details in order to empower other women to do the same. “I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age,” she admits. “Because I’m not the most ‘relevant’ actress out there.”
She says Dempsey leaving the show in 2015 finally opened the door for deal negotiations. “They could always use him as leverage against me – ‘we don’t need you; we have Patrick’ – which they did for years,” she says. “There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that.” [Ed’s note: not cool, Dempsey].
Now finally considered the show’s main attraction, Pompeo has secured a new contract of more than $US20 million a year (roughly $US575,000 per episode), making her the highest paid actress in primetime drama. She’s also signed to play Dr Meredith Grey for a 15th and 16th season.
“The show will go on for as long as Ellen wants to do it,” says Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes has always backed Pompeo’s demands for higher pay: “As a woman, what I know is you can’t approach anything from a point of view of ‘I don’t deserve’ or ‘I’m not going to ask for that because I don’t want other people to get upset,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. "And I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world."