Ellen Pompeo's new two-year deal with Grey's Anatomy pays her $575,000 per episode (totaling over $20 million per year)—making her the highest-paid actress on a primetime drama.
In celebration of being incredibly rich, Pompeo spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her behind-the-scenes fight for fair pay, and how she got where she is.
"I'm not the most 'relevant' actress out there," she explained. "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 fucking skill."
She went on to reveal that Patrick Dempsey leaving the show "was a defining moment, deal-wise", adding: "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. 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."
On how she negotiated her record-breaking new deal, Pompeo said: "What happened is that I went to Shonda [Rhimes] 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 incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show.'"
This article originally appeared on DigitalSpy.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.