“There were many moments. It’s funny: I never wanted off the bus in the year that I could get off,” the actress told Variety. “The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment.” However, after Ellen welcomed her first daughter, Stella, in September 2009, she realized she had to start putting her family first.
“Once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family,” she admitted. “At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money? I need to take care of my kids. But after Season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera. It became my goal to have an experience there that I could be happy and proud about, because we had so much turmoil for 10 years.”
Ellen now raises her three kids, Stella, Sienna, 4, and Eli, 2, with her husband, Chris Ivery. Even though she has no problems providing for her children, she admitted it was a struggle for her to get paid the same amount of money as her former costar and leading man Patrick Dempsey at first.
“He was being paid almost double what I was in the beginning. He had a television quote. I had never done TV,” she shared. When Ellen would ask the writers why she wasn’t getting paid the same, she remembers them telling her, “He’s done 13 pilots.”
The writers response to Ellen made her think: “Well, none of them have gone. I didn’t even realize until we were renegotiating season 3,” she said. “No one was offering that up.”
However, thanks to the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, Ellen was able to get exactly what she deserved. In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Shonda remembers telling Ellen: “Decide what you think you’re worth and then ask for what you think you’re worth. Nobody’s just going to give it to you.”
Ellen took Shonda’s advice to heart and demanded a paycheck that fit her role. She’s now earning more than $20 million a year and is the highest-paid actress on a primetime drama.
With Ellen having been on the show since 2005, she is still excited for fans to see season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy this fall!