Ellen Pompeo, TV's $20 million woman, reveals her behind-the-scenes fight for "what I deserve"

On March 27, 2005, ABC debuted a medical drama titled Grey's Anatomy from a then unknown creator, Shonda Rhimes. The show was an instant smash, and everybody involved was ecstatic.

Everybody, that is, except for the series' star, Ellen Pompeo, the Grey of Grey's Anatomy. "I knew I was f-cked," she recalls thinking at the time. After all, Pompeo was supposed to be a movie star.

Following a rocky childhood in a blue-collar, mob-heavy Boston suburb, where she and several siblings were raised by her father and grandparents (her mother died of an overdose when Pompeo was just 5), she found her way to Hollywood. Before long, her breakout role as the love interest in the 2002 film Moonlight Mile had sparked interest from major filmmakers. "Sam Mendes, Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty," she rattles off the names. "They were all, 'We were blown away by this performance' and 'You're a superstar.' "

But by 2004, her movie career had stalled and she was perilously close to broke. Then her agent, CAA's Rick Kurtzman, brought her the script for Grey's Anatomy. "I was like, 'I'm not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years,' " she remembers telling him. " 'Are you out of your fuckin' mind? I'm an actress.' " He convinced her to audition anyway, if only to pay the rent.

28 PHOTOS
Ellen Pompeo through the years
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Ellen Pompeo through the years
Ellen Pompeo during 'Catch Me If You Can' Los Angeles Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 2002 Toronto Film Festival - Motorola 'Moonlight Mile' Party at Power Plant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
Actress Ellen Pompeo stars in the fall movie 'Moonlight Mile' with Jake Guylenhall, Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon. Here she is photographed in Wattles Garden Park. 08/23/2002 (Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Ellen Pompeo (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during DreamWorks Premiere of Old School - Arrivals at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Ellen Pompeo at the The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 'Collateral' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during Prada Opens Beverly Hills Epicenter - Arrivals at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at The Shrine in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo during 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room at The Shrine in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen Pompeo (Photo by Gail Oskin/WireImage for PMK/HBH)
Ellen Pompeo wearing Gucci 2562S Sunglasses (Photo by Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 'Chanel' Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Arrivals at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during Opening of the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum at Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ellen Pompeo at the Social Hollywood in Hollywood, California (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Ellen Pompeo during 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Actress Ellen Pompeo arrives at the Madonna and Gucci Host 'A Night to Benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF' at the United Nations on February 6, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 09: Actress Ellen Pompeo arrives for the 34th Annual People's Choice Awards - Arrivals held at Nokia Theater at L.A. Live on January 9, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Actress Ellen Pompeo attends the grand opening of Marquee Nightclub at Marquee Nightclub In The Cosmopolitan on December 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)' - Miranda continues to deal with the aftermath of Ben's reckless decisions and forms an advisory committee to recommend proper disciplinary action against him. Meanwhile, April and Jackson try to put their differences aside for the sake of their baby, and Arizona makes a decision that could affect her relationship with Callie forever, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Mitch Haaseth/ABC via via Getty Images)ELLEN POMPEO
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'The End is the Beginning is the End' - Meredith, Derek, Cristina and Arizona receive big news regarding the plane crash lawsuit, Richard avoids Catherine's romantic advances and Jackson takes on one of Mark Sloane's old patients. Meanwhile, Derek begins recovery on his hand, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, JANUARY 17 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) ELLEN POMPEO, SARAH DREW, SANDRA OH
PACIFIC PALISADES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Ellen Pompeo arrives at the 3rd Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic held at Will Rogers State Historic Park on October 6, 2012 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 11: Actress Ellen Pompeo arrives at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball at The Vineyard on December 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Ellen Pompeo attends a private dinner hosted by VOGUE to celebrate TOD'S Creative Director Alessandra Facchinetti on November 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for TOD'S)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Actress Ellen Pompeo attends the 'Welcome to the Age of Cool' event hosted by Philosophy and Ellen Pompeo on September 22, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actress Ellen Pompeo attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on December 3, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Actress Ellen Pompeo is seen outside 'Good Morning America' on November 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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Fourteen years later, Pompeo is no longer a renter. In late 2017, she signed a new deal that will make her dramatic television's highest-earning actress. The expansive pact covers Grey's' current season and a 15th and 16th season after that (though the latter two have not been formally ordered, Rhimes says, "The show will go on as long as Ellen wants to do it.") Pompeo credits her boss and mentor who recently signed a nine-figure deal of her own at Netflix — with empowering her to overcome any doubts she may have about her own worth and to demand the best possible deal.

"As a woman, what I know is you can't approach anything from a point of view of 'I don't deserve' or 'I'm not going to ask for because I don't want other people to get upset,' " Rhimes says now. "And I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world."

Pompeo had plenty of leverage. Grey's has been drawing nearly 12 million viewers 300-plus episodes in, making it ABC's No. 2 drama, behind only fall 2017 entry The Good Doctor. And the show, which airs in some 220 territories around the world, is a multibillion-dollar franchise for ABC parent Disney. Rhimes recalls giving her star a simple piece of advice: "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."

The result: Pompeo's new pact will have her earning more than $20 million a year — $575,000 per episode, along with a seven-figure signing bonus and two full backend equity points on the series, estimated to bring in another $6 million to $7 million. She also will get a producing fee plus backend on this spring's Grey's spinoff as well as put pilot commitments and office space for her Calamity Jane production company on Disney's Burbank lot. Already, she has a legal drama in contention at ABC, and she recently sold an anthology drama to Amazon, which will focus each season on a different American fashion designer's rise to prominence.

Actors typically hate discussing their paychecks in the press, but Pompeo, a married mother of three, has chosen to do so with THR now in the hope of setting an example for others as women in Hollywood seize a new moment of empowerment and opportunity. An edited version of the conversation follows.

•••

I'm 48 now, so I've finally gotten to the place where I'm OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age. Because I'm not the most "relevant" actress out there. 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.

I'm not necessarily perceived as successful, either, but a 24-year-old actress with a few big movies is, even though she's probably being paid shit — certainly less than her male co-star and probably with no backend. And they're going to pimp her out until she's 33 or 34 and then she's out like yesterday's trash, and then what does she have to take care of herself? These poor girls have no real money, and the studio is making a fortune and parading them like ponies on a red carpet. I mean, Faye Dunaway is driving a fuckin' Prius today. Now, there's nothing wrong with a Prius, but my point is, she had no financial power. If we're going to invoke change, that has to be part of it.

For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. 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. And I could have walked away, so why didn't I? It's my show; I'm the number one. I'm sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, "I'm not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house."

So, what does it look like when he leaves the show? First, it looks like a ratings spike, and I had a nice chuckle about that. But the truth is, the ink wasn't even dry on his exit papers before they rushed in a new guy. I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rosé — and they're calling me, going, "What do you think of this guy?" "What do you think of this guy?" And they're sending pictures. 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. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn't love the storyline, so that ended.

77 PHOTOS
Grey's Anatomy through the years, evolution of cast
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Grey's Anatomy through the years, evolution of cast
UNITED STATES - APRIL 26: 100367_2826 -- GRAY'S ANATOMY - 'PILOT' (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 25: 100297_0628 -- GRAY'S ANATOMY - 'PILOT' (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 03: 102004_9923 -- GREY'S ANATOMY - 'WINNING A BATTLE, LOOSING A WAR' (Photo by Michael Ansell/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 23: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'INTO YOU LIKE A TRAIN' (Photo by Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 16: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Thanks for the Memories' (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 26: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Tell Me Sweet Little Lies' (Photo by Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 09: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'It's the End of the World (As We Know It)' , (Photo by Karen Neal/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 21: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Yesterday' - (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 25: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Superstition' - When a series of deaths occur at Seattle Grace, the uncanny events bring out the doctors' superstitious sides and make Izzie nervous about Denny's surgery. Meanwhile, Derek and Addison discuss making a more permanent living arrangement, and Richard treats a very special, old friend, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' SUNDAY, MARCH 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 29: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Damage Case' -- The interns deal with a family involved in a car accident, Derek lets his emotions get the best of him, and Burke and Izzie make a new suggestion to Denny, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' SUNDAY, MAY 7 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 01: GREY'S ANATOMY - In the second hour of part two of the season finale of ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' -- 'Losing My Religion,' Richard goes into interrogation mode about a patient's condition, Callie confronts George about his feelings for her, and Meredith and Derek meet about Doc. Part two of the season finale of 'Grey's Anatomy' airs SUNDAY, MAY 15 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 27: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I Am a Tree' - Cristina meets Burke's parents -- and in the most awkward of circumstances -- the interns campaign for Izzie's reinstatement to the surgical intern program, Addison takes a break from her hospital duties, and a surgical patient lives what may be her last day to the fullest, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 09: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I Am a Tree' - Cristina meets Burke's parents -- and in the most awkward of circumstances -- the interns campaign for Izzie's reinstatement to the surgical intern program, Addison takes a break from her hospital duties, and a surgical patient lives what may be her last day to the fullest, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 30: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'What I Am' - Addison doubts her abilities as a doctor, Cristina pushes Burke's rehabilitation, one of the interns suffers their own medical emergency, and Izzie receives the surprise of her life, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Gale Adler/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Let the Angels Commit' -- Cristina scrubs in on the rare 'humpty dumpty' procedure, much to the envy of her fellow doctors, Alex questions his future medical specialty, George and Addison work with a pregnant woman with an unusual dilemma, and Derek receives a surprise visit from his sister, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Where the Boys Are' - The men of Seattle Grace go on a camping trip together, Addison and Callie must team up to work on a patient, Meredith assists Sloan with a procedure unlike any she has experienced, and, suspicious of her recent actions at the hospital, Bailey confronts Cristina, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 06: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Where the Boys Are' - The men of Seattle Grace go on a camping trip together, Addison and Callie must team up to work on a patient, Meredith assists Sloan with a procedure unlike any she has experienced, and, suspicious of her recent actions at the hospital, Bailey confronts Cristina, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'From a Whisper to a Scream' - A traumatic car accident fills the ER, Cristina has a crisis of conscience about her deceptive teamwork with Burke, and Izzie pushes the boundaries of her probation, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Karen Neal/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 19: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Staring at the Sun' - The O'Malley Family visits George at the hospital, Meredith is determined to have a more positive outlook on life, Derek and Addison strive for a civil relationship, and Richard endeavors to reunite with his wife, Adele, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Karen Neal/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 19: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Staring at the Sun' - The O'Malley Family visits George at the hospital, Meredith is determined to have a more positive outlook on life, Derek and Addison strive for a civil relationship, and Richard endeavors to reunite with his wife, Adele, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Karen Neal/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 14: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Six Days' - After a successful operation on his heart, George's father undergoes surgery for his cancer, Thatcher Grey visits Seattle Grace in order to see his new granddaughter, and Meredith discovers that Derek has trouble sleeping soundly, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, JANUARY 4 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images)
CANADA - NOVEMBER 14: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Six Days' - After a successful operation on his heart, George's father undergoes surgery for his cancer, Thatcher Grey visits Seattle Grace in order to see his new granddaughter, and Meredith discovers that Derek has trouble sleeping soundly, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, JANUARY 4 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 07: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Walk on Water' - Beginning February 8, Grey's Anatomy enters a three-episode story arc that will challenge the interns of Seattle Grace -- and 'Grey's' fans as well -- like never before. 'Walk on Water' airs THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Elizabeth Reaser (Independent Spirit Award winner for 'Sweet Land') guest stars as a patient over multiple episodes. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 23: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Desire' - As the interns of Seattle Grace cram for their upcoming exam, the attendings vie for the Chief's position by tending to the chairman of the hospital board after he's admitted as a patient. Meanwhile, Burke struggles to involve Cristina in the wedding planning, things heat up between Addison and Alex, and Derek questions his relationship with Meredith, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 26 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Gale Adler/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 02: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Didn't We Almost Have It All' - Cristina and Burke's wedding day arrives - along with the interns' first exam results - and a successor to the Chief is named, as Callie and George make a big decision about their relationship, on the Season Finale of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 17 (9:00-10:07 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 25: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Love/Addiction' - The residents and interns treat the victims of a massive explosion at an apartment building, while Alex investigates the cause of the accident, Mama Burke returns to collect her son's things just as Cristina trades her wedding presents in exchange for surgeries, Lexie tries to have a heart-to-heart with an unwilling Meredith, and while Callie is overwhelmed with her duties as Chief Resident, Bailey searches for an outlet for her pent-up leadership skills, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 05: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Haunt You Every Day' - It's Halloween, and the day is full of surprises for the doctors of Seattle Grace - Alex receives an unexpected and welcome visit from his former patient, Ava/Rebecca, Meredith is convinced that her mother's ashes are haunting her, Cristina is snubbed by a surgeon she admires, and Callie announces George and Izzie's affair to their fellow doctors, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 05: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Haunt You Every Day' - It's Halloween, and the day is full of surprises for the doctors of Seattle Grace - Alex receives an unexpected and welcome visit from his former patient, Ava/Rebecca, Meredith is convinced that her mother's ashes are haunting her, Cristina is snubbed by a surgeon she admires, and Callie announces George and Izzie's affair to their fellow doctors, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 07: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Piece of My Heart' - Addison returns to Seattle Grace to perform an operation and is taken aback by all of the changes in her old co-workers' lives. Meanwhile Meredith and Derek's clinical trial has its first patient, and Rebecca/Ava returns with shocking news for Alex, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 1 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 03: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Freedom' - On the two-hour season finale of 'Grey's Anatomy,' Meredith and Derek have one last shot at a successful outcome in their clinical trial, as the other surgeons work together to free a boy from a hardening block of cement. Meanwhile, Izzie helps Alex care for an ailing Rebecca, and Lexie discovers critical information about George's intern status, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 22 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 09: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Freedom' - On the two-hour season finale of 'Grey's Anatomy,' Meredith and Derek have one last shot at a successful outcome in their clinical trial, as the other surgeons work together to free a boy from a hardening block of cement. Meanwhile, Izzie helps Alex care for an ailing Rebecca, and Lexie discovers critical information about George's intern status, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 22 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 04: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Here Comes the Flood' - A plumbing leak becomes a deluge and wreaks havoc at Seattle Grace, as the Chief attempts to implement new teaching policies and George tries to retake his residency exam; meanwhile Derek hopes to move the roommates out of Meredith's house, to their surprise, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Rise Up' - The Chief announces to the residents that a solo surgery will be awarded, and the news sends them into a competitive frenzy. Meanwhile Derek turns to Bailey for advice when he feels Cristina is interfering in his relationship with Meredith, and Erica discovers a shocking connection between one of her surgical residents and a longtime patient, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 10: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Beat Your Heart Out' - Now that Derek has the engagement ring, he searches for the perfect way to propose to Meredith, as Lexie demands that Mark go public with their relationship, and Bailey, encouraged by her work on recent cases and by Dr. Dixon, considers a new direction for her medical career, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 05: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I Will Follow You into the Dark' - After learning at a deposition that more of his patients have died than survived, Derek decides to quit, even as Meredith refuses to give up on him. Meanwhile Bailey and the Chief continue to bicker over her peds fellowship -- until Adele steps in to mediate -- and Izzie's interns discover something unsettling on a 'patient x,' unaware that the charts they're looking at are actually Izzie's, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MARCH 12 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Tom/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 16: GREY'S ANATOMY - 'What a Difference a Day Makes' - As Meredith, Derek and all of their friends prepare for the big wedding, a group of college students, injured in a car crash as they were heading to their graduation ceremony, is admitted to the ER. Meanwhile, Izzie fears the worst when she begins experiencing familiar symptoms, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 7 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Holidaze' -- As Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's pass, Miranda is visited by her father, William, who disapproves of her choices in life; meanwhile, Mark and Lexie must cope with the shocking arrival of a woman from his past, and Thatcher Grey questions the Chief's recent behavior as Meredith comes to his defense, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) KIM RAVER, SANDRA OH, KEVIN MCKIDD
GREY'S ANATOMY - ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' concludes the season with a two-hour shocker, THURSDAY, MAY 20. In the first hour, entitled 'Sanctuary' (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET), Seattle Grace Hospital is hit with a crisis like no other in its history. Then, in the second hour, 'Death and All His Friends' (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), Cristina and Meredith's surgical skills are put to the ultimate test. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) JESSICA CAPSHAW, SARA RAMIREZ
GREY'S ANATOMY - ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' concludes the season with a two-hour shocker, THURSDAY, MAY 20. In the first hour, entitled 'Sanctuary' (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET), Seattle Grace Hospital is hit with a crisis like no other in its history. Then, in the second hour, 'Death and All His Friends' (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), Cristina and Meredith's surgical skills are put to the ultimate test. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH DREW, PATRICK DEMPSEY (ON GROUND), MICHAEL O'NEILL
GREY'S ANATOMY - ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' concludes the season with a two-hour shocker, THURSDAY, MAY 20. In the first hour, entitled 'Sanctuary' (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET), Seattle Grace Hospital is hit with a crisis like no other in its history. Then, in the second hour, 'Death and All His Friends' (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), Cristina and Meredith's surgical skills are put to the ultimate test. (Photo by Scott Garfield/ABC via Getty Images) CHANDRA WILSON
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'With You I'm Born Again' -- After an unforgettable and heart-pounding season finale, 'Grey's Anatomy' returns for its seventh season on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. In the season premiere, the hospital staff is trying to deal with physical and emotional trauma in the wake of the deadly rampage of a vengeful gunman. As Dr. Perkins (James Tupper), a trauma counselor, is brought in to help in the recovery and to assess each doctor's readiness to return to work, Derek makes a spontaneous decision to resign as Chief and rushes back into surgery, taking everything a little too fast, and Cristina buries herself in her wedding planning. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images) JESSE WILLIAMS, SARA RAMIREZ, JESSICA CAPSHAW (OBSCURED), SARAH DREW
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'With You I'm Born Again' -- After an unforgettable and heart-pounding season finale, 'Grey's Anatomy' returns for its seventh season on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. In the season premiere, the hospital staff is trying to deal with physical and emotional trauma in the wake of the deadly rampage of a vengeful gunman. As Dr. Perkins (James Tupper), a trauma counselor, is brought in to help in the recovery and to assess each doctor's readiness to return to work, Derek makes a spontaneous decision to resign as Chief and rushes back into surgery, taking everything a little too fast, and Cristina buries herself in her wedding planning. (Photo by Peter 'Hopper' Stone/ABC via Getty Images) SANDRA OH, KEVIN MCKIDD
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Superfreak' - When Derek receives an unexpected and unwelcome visit from his estranged sister, Amelia, issues between the siblings -- both past and present -- come to the surface; the Chief tries to help Alex when he notices that he's refusing to use the elevators after his near-fatal shooting; and Meredith and Derek continue their efforts to ease Cristina back into surgery after her post-traumatic stress, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images) CATERINA SCORSONE
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Can't Fight Biology' - Things are hostile on all fronts when a visit to the obstetrician results in some disturbing news for Meredith and Derek, and Lexie loses it when she notices Meredith and April getting closer. Meanwhile a car crash brings in multiple traumas and Jackson tries using his physical attributes to get ahead in the operating room, while Cristina's self-doubt carries outside of the hospital and into her house hunting with Owen, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) PATRICK DEMPSEY, ELLEN POMPEO
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Adrift and at Peace' - Despite Meredith's objections to the idea, a concerned Derek takes Cristina on a fishing trip in order to get away from it all, while Teddy, feeling directionless without Cristina, directs all of her efforts and compassion towards a dying patient (played by Scott Foley) who lacks the proper insurance to seek medical treatment, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURS., DECEMBER 2 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) CHYLER LEIGH, ERIC DANE
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'White Wedding' - As Callie and Arizona's wedding approaches, the couple quickly realize that the day they've been looking forward to is not turning out the way they'd envisioned. Meanwhile Alex continues to make the other residents jealous as he appears to be the top contender for Chief Resident, Meredith and Derek make a decision that will change their lives forever, and Dr. Perkins presents Teddy with a very tempting proposition, on Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 5 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)JESSICA CAPSHAW, SARA RAMIREZ
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Love, Loss and Legacy' - The residents try their hardest to impress surgical great Catherine Avery-who also happens to be Jackson's mother-when she arrives at Seattle Grace to perform a groundbreaking transplant surgery; Arizona and Alex find their hands tied with a confidentiality issue when a familiar patient comes into the ER; meanwhile, a love-struck Teddy throws a dinner party for the couples, and Bailey makes a decision regarding her love life, on Grey's Anatomy, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)CHANDRA WILSON
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Loss, Love and Legacy' - The residents try their hardest to impress surgical great Catherine Avery-who also happens to be Jackson's mother-when she arrives at Seattle Grace to perform a groundbreaking transplant surgery; Arizona and Alex find their hands tied with a confidentiality issue when a familiar patient comes into the ER; meanwhile, a love-struck Teddy throws a dinner party for the couples, and Bailey makes a decision regarding her love life, on Grey's Anatomy, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)SARAH DREW, DEBBIE ALLEN
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Suddenly' - A severe car crash involving an entire family results in an all-hands-on situation in the ER, as the eldest daughter is left to make the toughest decision of her life. Meanwhile Teddy, still in the dark about Henry's death, calls upon Cristina to help with her patient in the O.R., and Lexie finds herself working alongside Mark's new girlfriend, Julia, during an eye surgery on Grey's Anatomy, THURSDAY, JANUARY 5 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Foreman/ABC via Getty Images) ELLEN POMPEO, PATRICK DEMPSEY
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'If Only You Were Lonely' - As Adele's condition continues to deteriorate, Richard considers altering their living situation; an explosion at a local coffee shop results in a busy day in the ER for the doctors; Callie takes Meredith under her wing by helping her study for her boards; Lexie joins Arizona and Alex in peds, as they continue to care for intern Morgan's premature son; and when Jackson snaps at a patient, Mark encourages him to find ways to relieve his stress. Meanwhile, Cristina lets her suspicions get the best of her, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images) LORETTA DEVINE, JAMES PICKENS JR.
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Migration' - The residents determine their future as they make their final decisions regarding post residency positions; Mark admits to Derek that he is torn between his love for Lexie and the fact that Julia can give him everything he's ever wanted; Ben plans something extra special for Bailey, but she is preoccupied with her work; and Arizona encourages her childhood friend, Nick, to have surgery. Meanwhile a couple on their third honeymoon come to the hospital complaining of mysterious symptoms, on Grey's Anatomy, THURSDAY, MAY 10 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright / ABC via Getty Images) JUSTIN CHAMBERS, JESSE WILLIAMS
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Flight' - Faced with a life threatening situation, the doctors must fight to stay alive while trying to save the lives of their peers; Bailey and Ben make a decision regarding their relationship; and Teddy is presented with a tempting offer. Meanwhile, Richard plans a special dinner for the residents, on the Season Finale of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 17 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Karen Neal/ABC via Getty Images) ERIC DANE, ELLEN POMPEO
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Going Going Gone' - The doctors of Seattle Grace are faced with the aftermath of last season's plane crash. As they try to move on with their lives, they must learn to adapt to the changes, cope with their losses and move forward with their relationships and careers, on the ninth-season premiere of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty images) CAMILLA LUDDINGTON
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Second Opinion' - As the doctors continue with their lawsuit, they're forced to confront the realities of their injuries. Meanwhile, Bailey tricks Arizona into helping her with a pediatric case, and Cristina tries to find normalcy in her new environment, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. ((Ron Tom ABC/ via Getty Images) SARA RAMIREZ, PATRICK DEMPSEY, ELLEN POMPEO, SANDRA OH
GREY'S ANATOMY- 'Things We Said Today' - Bailey puts her wedding day on hold and continues her efforts to save Adele's life, Cristina and Owen remain undecided about their pending divorce, while Arizona and Callie try to get their spark back. Meanwhile, the hospital becomes inundated with a group of bikers after a horrible accident, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, JANUARY 10 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images) CHANDRA WILSON, JASON GEORGE
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Perfect Storm' - Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital enters crisis mode as the storm rages, resources become scarce and patients flood in by the busload. Meanwhile, one of the doctors fights for their life, on the Season Finale of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 16 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) ELLEN POMPEO, PATRICK DEMPSEY
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Seal Our Fate' - 'Grey's Anatomy' returns for its monumental tenth season with a two-hour event, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. In the first hour, 'Seal Our Fate' (9:00-10:00 p.m.), the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital doctors are faced with the devastation left by the storm. A giant mudslide in Seattle injures a group of first responders and citizens, causing the already shorthanded ER to spring into action. Meanwhile, Meredith is faced with a tough decision that will affect the life of a loved one, Callie is rocked by the reality of Arizona's infidelity, and Richard's life is in extreme danger. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images) JESSE WILLIAMS
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Thriller' - It's Halloween and the doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial are hit with a barrage of spooky patients, which affects their own plans and puts one doctor's well-being in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Derek collaborates with Ben on a new surgical technique, and Richard angers Bailey when he asks a second year resident to perform his next surgery, on a special Halloween episode of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images) JASON GEORGE, PATRICK DEMPSEY
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word' - When an unexpected malpractice suit turns Callie's world upside down, her supportive father (Hector Elizondo) arrives and shares an interesting secret with her. Meanwhile, through flashbacks, we learn some surprising details about Callie and Arizona's marriage, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images) SARA RAMIREZ, HECTOR ELIZONDO
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Somebody That I Used To Know' - Ben worries that a casual conversation with Derek could potentially cause issues for Bailey, Cristina turns to Shane as tension grows with Meredith, and April's upcoming wedding makes for an uncomfortable situation between Jackson and Stephanie. Meanwhile, Meredith plans a Thanksgiving dinner at her house, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images) CAMILLA LUDDINGTON, JUSTIN CHAMBERS
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Take It Back' - The doctors face the consequences of the events that took place at April's wedding. Meredith feels betrayed when Derek goes back on a promise, Alex is furious after returning to the hospital and hearing the news about his father, and Arizona and Callie decide whether or not to move forward together. Meanwhile, Bailey realizes she was wrong about the motive behind Ben's decision to move back to Seattle, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) SARAH DREW, JESSE WILLIAMS
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Change Of Heart' - Jackson is given the daunting task of delivering disappointing news to the doctors. Meanwhile, Derek's sister Amelia drops by for a surprise visit, Richard surprises Catherine in Boston and when Bailey gets frustrated by the slow pace of her research, she makes a risky decision on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 24 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Fear (of the Unknown)' - In the Season 10 finale, the doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital bid an emotional farewell to the beloved Cristina Yang. A possible act of terrorism rocks Seattle and causes chaos at the hospital. Meanwhile, Meredith makes a life changing decision and one doctor receives shocking news on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 15 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Don't Let's Start' - Owen becomes invested in a patient when he realizes she may have served in the military, April's mother (Connie Ray) pays her daughter a visit and bonds with Jackson, and Derek plans a family dinner. Meanwhile, a patient's diagnosis causes Bailey to reconsider her own health issues and Dr. Herman drops a bombshell on Arizona, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Risk' - Maggie and Meredith disagree with Derek about the best way to approach a patient's case, which leads to a bigger argument between the couple. Meanwhile, Callie feels responsible when one of her veterans is pushed too far and one doctor's routine procedure results in a devastating diagnosis, on the winter finale of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Danny Feld/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Don't Dream It's Over' - A patient's condition sparks a conversation between Richard and Maggie about Alzheimer's disease; April and Jackson struggle to return to their normal lives and Arizona is faced with the reality that Callie is moving on. Meanwhile, Meredith reveals her biggest fears about Derek, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MARCH 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Mitchell Haaseth/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'How to Save a Life' - Derek witnesses a horrible car accident and springs into action to save lives, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 23 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'How to Save a Life' - Derek witnesses a horrible car accident and springs into action to save lives, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 23 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Sledgehammer' - Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital springs into action to save the lives of two young girls whose powerful story will force some of the doctors to revisit the effects of bullying on their own pasts. Meanwhile, Meredith must adjust to changes at home with her new roommates while Bailey continues to fight for the Chief of Surgery position and Jackson prepares for April's return to Seattle, on the Season 12 premiere of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 (8:00--9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I Choose You ' -- Maggie reevaluates her life choices after receiving an invitation to her ex-boyfriend's wedding; Richard questions Bailey's loyalty, and Jo confides in Stephanie about a secret she's been keeping from Alex. Meanwhile, Alex struggles with making a difficult decision that will affect the lives of newborn twins, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8 (8:00--9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Mitchell Haaseth/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?' - In the midst of the sisters' dinner party, Maggie ditches her cooking duties to rush to the hospital. Meanwhile, April steps in to help cook as an attempt to avoid Jackson, and Arizona nervously waits to find out more about Callie's new girlfriend, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Mitchell Haaseth/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Something Against You' - The team of doctors work on a high stakes case of a long time patient, adding additional pressure to an already tense environment. Meanwhile, Bailey wants Ben to kick out their new roommate, and Arizona is eager to get back into the dating world with a new wingman, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12 (8:00--9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images)
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'When It Hurts So Bad' - Meredith takes a step forward with Will but quickly regrets it; Maggie senses a disconnection with Andrew; and Amelia reevaluates her relationship with Owen. Meanwhile, Catherine comes into town and really shakes things up with April and Jackson, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MARCH 31 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ron Batzdorff/ABC via via Getty Images)SARAH DREW
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'The Sound of Silence' - Meredith is brutally attacked by a patient, and Penny is the one who discovers her. The doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial rush to stabilize Meredith and remain by her side in the harrowing aftermath, on the midseason return of 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11 (8:00--9:00 p.m. EST) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Nicole Wilder/ABC via Getty Images) JAMES PICKENS JR., ELLEN POMPEO
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'I Wear the Face' - Meredith goes on an ambulance ride with Owen and Nathan to pick up a heart for a transplant patient. Musician & MS patient Kyle Diaz is admitted to Grey Sloan Memorial with a tremor in his hand, and the residents apply for the Preminger Grant. Meanwhile, Catherine continues to insert herself into Jackson and April's business against Richard's wishes, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, APRIL 7 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via via Getty Images) WILMER VALDERRAMA, JERRIKA HINTON
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'Mama Tried' - Callie and Arizona are at odds over Sofia's future, and Stephanie questions the status of her relationship with Kyle. Meanwhile, Alex and April work on a pregnant teen that is readmitted to Grey Sloan Memorial, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 5 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty Images) SARA RAMIREZ
GREY'S ANATOMY - 'At Last' - Owen and Amelia take their relationship to the next level; Alex gains some clarity on his future with Jo; and Callie and Arizona continue to struggle with the current custody arrangement, on 'Grey's Anatomy,' THURSDAY, MAY 12 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images) JUSTIN CHAMBERS, ELLEN POMPEO
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Things have changed, though. In Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me. And that took her a while to get to, too. It was part of her evolution. It's also why our relationship is so special. I was always loyal to her, and she responds well to loyalty. So, she got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented.

Let me back up. What happened is that 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 incentivized. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show." And she was like, "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?"

ABC/Photofest

 

Now, maybe it's my Irish Catholic upbringing, but you never want to [be perceived as] too greedy. Or maybe it's just that as women, that's our problem; a guy wouldn't have any problem asking for $600,000 an episode. And as women, we're like, "Oh, can I ask for that? Is that OK?" I'd call Shonda and say, "Am I being greedy?" But CAA compiled a list of stats for me, and Grey's has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney. When your face and your voice have been part of something that's generated $3 billion for one of the biggest corporations in the world, you start to feel like, "OK, maybe I do deserve a piece of this."

What I said to Shonda is the truth: "I don't get to do anything else, and that's frustrating for me creatively. I make 24 episodes of TV a year, and as part of this deal, I cannot appear anywhere else. And directing is cool but, to be honest, it just takes me away from my kids." Then I said, "So, it's got to be a ton of money. And it has to help me with my producing because producing is something I really enjoy. That's my creativity now." Acting, to me, is boring. An actor is the least powerful person on set, so I don't care about chasing roles. Plus, at my age, it's pretty unrealistic. Not that I can't do a cool cable thing, but I'm not going to have this whole second life as a movie star. I'm not fuckin' Julia Roberts.

In the last few weeks, a lot of us actresses in town have been having these meetings [as part of the Time's Up initiative]. We've been sharing stories and trying to figure out how we can promote change and use our voices to help other people. And I'll tell you, sitting in rooms full of Oscar-winning actresses listening to how they've been preyed upon and assaulted is frightening. And it confirmed that my path really was the right one for me, because I've chosen to financially empower myself so that I never have to be ducking predators and chasing trophies. It's not for everyone. You have to be more interested in business than you are in acting.

Courtesy of Richard Cartwright/ABC

 

By the way, I saw the other path. My agent once sent me to see Harvey, too. I went right up to his room at the Peninsula, which I would never normally do, but Harvey was a New York guy, so it made sense. Plus, it was in the middle of the day, and he had an assistant there. He didn't try anything on me. Had he, I'm a little rough around the edges and I grew up around some very tough people, so I probably would have picked up a vase and cracked him over the fucking head. But I also feel completely comfortable saying that I walked into that room batting the shit out of my eyelashes. My goal in that room was to charm him, as it is in most rooms like that. You think, "Not only do I have to show that I'm a good actress, but that director also has to in some way fall in love with me and at least become enamored with me." That never felt right or good to me. And I've had conversations with my agent 17 years later where I said, "You sent me into that room knowing ...;" They claim they didn't know.

So, again, if you're 100 percent an artist, this path, my path, is not going to fulfill you. I talk to a lot of girls who are on network shows, and they have the same culture problems that we had. Now, I don’t think it’s a secret that we had a real problem at Grey’s for a long time. On the outside, we were a massive success, but there was all of this tumult on the inside: It was a lot of rivalry, a lot of competition. It starts with actors behaving badly, and then producers enabling them to behave badly. And, by the way, I'm guilty of it, too. I saw squeaky wheels getting all the fucking grease, so I was like, “OK, that's how you do it,” and I behaved badly as well. I mimicked what I saw. I'm not perfect. But now I hear other stories from other shows, maybe not to the same extent, but what happens in network TV is that it's super-mundane and there are super-long hours and it's not necessarily the most creative space, so actors get frustrated and they get angry. And there are behavior problems because actors are miserable that they're not Leonardo DiCaprio or Margot Robbie. That's actors: They want to do whatever they're not doing. You could give them a fucking beautiful chocolate ice cream cone with sprinkles and they're gonna say they want strawberry.

John Sciulli/Getty Images

 

Here's the thing: You have a choice. You can hold actors down and try to control them, but it kills their spirit and they resent being there. When I'm directing an episode, as soon as I get the script, I give it to the actors. They usually don't get them until the table read, but of course they want it sooner. Then I let them come to the casting sessions and make them feel part of the process; I get so much more out of them that way. I don't know if you listened to Jay Z's latest album, but in one song he talks about how all the white guys own the record labels and they say to these artists, "Oh, here's a $3 million advance," while they're making billions. The artists are chasing Grammys and Lamborghinis, so they think, "Oh yeah, I'm rich." Meanwhile, Sony just made fucking $500 million, and they gave you $3 million and you think you're doing amazing. With Tidal, Jay Z's empowered artists by giving them a piece, and it makes them more invested. I love it. And I think, like the music business, we need to get to a place where actors have more ownership over what they do. That should be part of this conversation we're having now.

I should also say this: I don't believe the only solution is more women in power, because 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. Look, I only have a 12th-grade education and I wasn't a great student, but I've gotten an education here at Shondaland. And now my 8-year-old daughter gets to come here and see fierce females in charge. She loves to sit in the director's chair with the headphones on yelling "Action" and "Cut." She's growing up in an environment where she's completely comfortable with power. I don't know any other environment in Hollywood where I could provide that for her. Now I hope that changes ...; and soon.

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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