Most actors don’t reveal how much money they make – Ellen Pompeo is not most people. She had no problem doing so in a revealing interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month, talking about her journey to earning her a whopping $20 million salary on the ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy.
During the Thursday, February 8, episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the late-night host asked the actress about her decision to share how much money she made.
“I’m grateful that it was received in the way in which I intended it to be, which was as an empowering story for women and to also be very honest about my faults and my shortcomings,” Pompeo, 48, told Jimmy Kimmel. “Because I think that there’s a lot of blame, especially right now. People are blaming people. There’s a lot of finger pointing, but there’s less people owning up to their side of things. And I wanted to sort of do a truthful interview and talk about my road to my own empowerment and how I got there, but also mistakes I’ve made along the way.”
She went on to explain that she not only wanted to send a message for women to speak up, but also wanted women to take responsibility for not speaking up.
“As women, you know, it’s not only about what’s done to us or what’s not given to us. It’s what don’t we ask for,” the actress said. “You know, how much of it is [it] isn’t given to us, or is it that we don’t ask? I think that as much as we can point the finger at other people and [say], ‘You don’t give us or you don’t treat us fairly,’ We also have to point the finger at ourselves and say, ‘Did we ask? Did we step up and have the uh, gumption, to ask for what a man would?’ We have to own part of it. And sometimes we’re too shy; we’re too afraid to be seen as difficult to really speak our mind.”
In The Hollywood Reporter interview, Pompeo revealed that she was making a great deal less than her former costar Patrick Dempsey and asked him multiple times to negotiate their salaries together.
“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,” she told THR. “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 No. 1.”
Pompeo just signed on for another two seasons of ABC’s medical drama, earning $575,000 an episode, totaling in more than $20 million a year. She also signed a seven-figure signing bonus and two backend equities points (estimated to bring in another $6 million to $7 million).
Grey’s Anatomy airs on ABC Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET.