Ellen Pompeo Opens Up About Raising Biracial Kids: My Daughter’s Friend Didn’t Believe I Was Her Mom

Ellen Pompeo
Actress Ellen Pompeo attends The 41st Annual People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre LA Live on January 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Getting candid. Ellen Pompeo opened up about raising biracial children and why it’s important for parents to teach their kids to be open-minded and accepting of everyone.

The 49-year-old Grey’s Anatomy star was a guest on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk with Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris on Monday, December 10, and got real about the struggles she faces raising Stella, 9, Sienna, 4, and Eli, almost 2, with biracial husband Chris Ivery.

“My challenge with raising brown children is how much do you say to them and how much do you not say to them? A couple of weeks ago I had some friends over [to] the house — little girls of color — and the little girl came in and I introduced myself and I said, ‘I’m Stella’s mom,’ and she looked at me and she was, like, almost scared, and then she went right to Stella and she said, ‘That’s your mom? I thought that was your mom [and pointed to the nanny],” the actress recalled.

She continued, “The little baby looked like she was scared of me. That just breaks my heart. … That’s why that experience of being in my house and meeting me was good for her — to see that all white people aren’t what you think.”

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Pompeo, who has been married to the music producer since 2007, said parents should do what they can to expose their kids to a variety of races and religions. “As moms and dads, we have the responsibility to expose our children to all different types of people; to just show them the differences in the world,” she said.

Two days prior to the episode’s premiere, the actress, who plays Meredith Grey in the medical drama, tweeted, “I was humbled when @jadapsmith asked me to come to have a discussion about race. I by no means walk in anyone else’s shoes only my own. I was open &honest about my experience &come from a place of love w no fear about having difficult discussions. Thank you to the whole family.”

She added, “I feel a responsibility to at least try to get people thinking or talking. Even if they disagree w me. obviously I’m ready for that. I just cannot sit&post selfies or do nothing with his platform.”

TV’s highest-paid actress also discussed her relationship with her former Grey’s Anatomy costar Patrick Dempsey, who exited the series in 2015 after 11 seasons.

“We haven’t spoken since he’s left the show. I have no hard feelings toward him,” she admitted. “He’s a wonderful actor and we made, you know, the best TV you could make together. That’s a talented man right there. He did 11 amazing years.”

She explained, ”Typically when people leave the show, they need to sort of re-find themselves, who they are, without the show, because the show takes up so much of your life. You need that time to figure out who you are without the show. So, we have not spoken but I will always have a place in my heart for Patrick.”

Last month, the Emmy winner called out the lack of diversity in Hollywood during a roundtable chat for Porter magazine. “This day has been incredible, and there’s a ton of women in the room,” she said at the time. “But I don’t see enough color. And I didn’t see enough color when I walked in the room today.”

 

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