Cape Town – Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo just signed a major television deal that makes her the highest paid TV actress.
According to The Hollywood Reporter she will be paid around $575 000 per episode, a seven figure signing bonus, a percentage of the show's profits, and a producing fee for the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off.
This deal will see her earning $20m a year. But getting it didn’t come easy.
In a candid interview with the publication Ellen details how she fought to be paid what she deserves.
Here are 6 things Ellen highlighted in her interview:
1. On playing Meredith Grey
After making her movie debut in Moonlight Mile in 2002 Ellen’s movie career stalled.
When her agent brought her the script for Grey’s Anatomy in 2004 her reaction was: "I was like, 'I'm not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years. Are you out of your fuckin' mind? I'm an actress.'"
Her agent however convinced her to go and 14 years later here she is.
"I know that's the industry perception because I've been this character for 14 years. But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that's a fuckin' skill."
2. On becoming empowered
Ellen credits her boss and mentor Shonda Rhimes for empowering her.
When Rhimes signed the big deal with Netflix Ellen saw the opportunity for negotiation.
"I went to Shonda and I said, "If you're moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I'm cool with that. But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivised. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show."
And responded: "I absolutely want to keep the show going. It's the mothership, so let's find a way to make you happy. What do you want?"
3. Pay disparity on Grey’s Anatomy
Even though Ellen was the star of the show Patrick Dempsey earned more than her.
When she first asked for a pay rise the studio declined.
"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."
She went on to say that she could have walked away but it was her show and she wasn’t going to be driven "out of her home."
4. On replacing Patrick Dempsey
According to Ellen Grey’s Anatomy had a rating spike after Dempsey left. But the studio wanted to replace him with another man.
While she was on vacation she was sent pictures of potential new co-stars.
"I was like, 'Are you people fucking nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?' I couldn't believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there."
5. On meeting Harvey Weinstein
In the interview Ellen also revealed that her agent once set up a meeting with Weinstein. She went to meet him in his room at a hotel, which she didn’t normally do.
He didn’t try anything on her, but if he did Ellen says she "probably would have picked up a vase and cracked him over the fucking head."
6. On the future of gender equality in Hollywood
Ellen said she doesn’t believe the solution is to only have women in power as power corrupts.
"It's not necessarily a man or a woman thing. But there should be more of us women in power, and not just on Shonda Rhimes' sets," she said.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE.