Meredith Grey isn't going anywhere! Ellen Pompeo — who stars in the hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy — recently extended her contract with the show through Season 15 and Season 16, and now, she's opening up about her very hefty new salary, which has officially made her the highest paid actress on TV.
At the panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday, June 19, Ellen shared that "timing was everything" when it came to signing her $20 million per year contract, which earns her $575,000 per Grey's episode as well as a $6-7 million signing bonus (Casual). Ellen is one of the last men standing on the hit show, which gave her an advantage for getting a raise. "The studio didn’t have two key players to leverage against me," she shared. "They no longer had Patrick Dempsey or Shonda [Rhimes]. They had nobody left to hang the franchise hat on."
During an interview with Entertainment Tonight in May, the 48-year-old shared why she's been so vocal about her pay bump. “That was a tricky situation, because you don’t normally want to talk about money and talk about your salaries," she shared. "It’s admired and celebrated when a male athlete does it, and I think that’s precisely the reason why I decided to do it."
"The thing that’s been more meaningful is the women who have found it empowering and helpful," she continued. "I can’t tell you the amount of women who have approached me and just want to hug me and thank me for the audacity to be bold and maybe even a little crass, but authentic and explain my journey and my shortcomings, as well as my successes — has made it all worthwhile."
On top of just being the face of Grey's, Ellen's new agreement made her a producer starting midway this past Season 14, as well as a co-executive producer on the upcoming spin-off, Station 19.
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Ellen is really enjoying her new producing and directing roles as well. So much that she even hinted that this could be her last big acting role. "Producing and directing is where I’m challenged and where I’m learning," she told Deadline. "Acting, I don’t know. If the right role comes along, and it’s interesting, then never say never, but I do have three kids. I don’t necessarily want to travel around. I wouldn’t say it’s my burning desire to go act in something else."
But after 14 seasons and 13 years with Grey's, she simply can't deny that the show means a lot to her. "[Grey's] is something that’s been much bigger than a TV show for so many reasons," Ellen gushed. "So I’m extremely proud of the show and everyone that has worked on it in the past, everybody who’s here now. It’s the beginning of a movement, and it’s so special to me for so many reasons."
And just because Ellen signed on for two more seasons of Grey's doesn't mean the show will end in two years either. "I’ve been saying since season one, 'We have two more years,'" she told Deadline. "This show, it’s taking on a life of its own, and who knows? We take it season by season really."
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