Chanel   11 17 2018   Comment?

ELLEN POMPEO

When Pompeo, 49, revealed that she had renegotiated her Grey’s Anatomy salary to the tune of $20million, women everywhere rejoiced. Because while our numbers may differ, the example of a woman who knows what she’s worth and wins the fight to see that recognized is uplifting for us all. The actress is passionate about ensuring equal on-screen representation and is unafraid to use her position to make it happen

Shonda Rhimes changed the game with Grey’s Anatomy. Shonda put a black actress and an Asian actress as the leads on her show – no one was doing that. But I don’t think her work was done in one show. Grey’s Anatomy being so successful and staying on the air for so long gave Shonda the power to then make Scandal and to put a black woman in the lead of a network television show. So Grey’s Anatomy was part one, and Scandal was part two.

There are good men in Hollywood. I took my daughter to the theater to see Frozen when it came out. I looked around and saw that more than half the children in the theater were children of color. They were all loving this movie, but my heart was breaking that here they are, idolizing these images on screen, and none of the images reflect more than half of them. But this is all they have to wonder and marvel at. And I was so moved by that experience, that when I happened to bump into Bob [Iger, the CEO of Disney, the parent company of Grey’s Anatomy] a couple of weeks later, I relayed it to him. I said, ‘I hope you don’t mind my candor, but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a mother and a human being if I didn’t express to you my feelings.’ He promised me that he was aware and that things were going to change and that he was doing everything in his power, every day, to make that possible. And three years later, Black Panther came out. When I saw it, I cried at every frame. It had so much significance for me, not only because I have black children, but just thinking back to how Bob kept his word. There aren’t many people in positions of power who are committed to doing the right thing.

When I walk the red carpet now, it’s so much easier because I just give zero f***s. I mean, of course you want your outfit to be amazing, your hair, your makeup, but you’re so much less self-conscious at this age. I’m 48 [Ellen turned 49 just after our shoot] and I give zero f***s. No one tells you that about aging – the little things don’t matter to you anymore. You’re just happy to be healthy and getting to do what you love.

I’m battling every day. At this particular stage of my career and my show, season 15, it’s a different experience and there are a lot of reasons why people don’t do shows for this long. But my battle every day is to make every scene as good as it can be. How can we improve the writing, how can we improve the acting… I feel quite a lot of pressure. I feel more comfortable with certain things now, but I’m in a real contest with myself, to keep the quality great, to keep it interesting, to stay engaged and not get complacent or bored, so that the audience feels that, and we give them the show that they’ve always loved.

I’m not much of a risktaker. I’ve kept the same job for a really long time, I’ve been married for a really long time [to music producer Chris Ivery, with whom she has three children]. I do make calculated risks – I make sure I know what I’m doing, I don’t go into anything blindly, just winging it and asking for s***. I know what’s happening, I know what I’m up against and when the time is right, I’ll go for it.

Season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy will air on ABC in 2019

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