Before Grey’s Anatomy even premiered in 2005, there was casting drama, according to Washington.
“I originally went in to be Derek Shepherd, a brain surgeon. I was paid $10,000 not to take the audition. Or do any television. I took the money,” Washington claimed during an October 2021 radio interview. “I got called back, read with Ellen Pompeo. She made the executive decision [not to hire me] because she had a Black boyfriend, she didn’t feel comfortable. Now she said that to me at catering once I was actually on the show as Dr. Burke. I was passed over, it was over.”
(Pompeo previously told the New York Post in 2013 that she felt a Black man playing Derek was “too close to home” amid her romance with now-husband Chris Ivery.)Back to top