Seeing as how she’s played the title character on the mega hit medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that Ellen Pompeo has an impressive net worth. That said, you might not know just how impressive it is. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she has a net worth of $80 million. Who needs a cold compress?
Pompeo took on the lead role of Meredith Grey in 2005 and since then, the show has aired seventeen seasons (and counting), with ABC’s parent company Disney raking in a serious amount of cash from the show’s success. Pompeo has been very open about how much she makes on “Grey’s Anatomy,” even revealing details of her financial deal with Shonda Rhimes in an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter. For starters, she said she’s earned more than $575,000 dollars per episode in later seasons. Not bad, eh?
Pompeo doesn’t earn money exclusively from acting either. She also happens to be passionate about producing and has a few side hustles on the go, too. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of everything that makes up Ellen Pompeo’s net worth.
Ellen Pompeo was nearly broke before starring in Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo stumbled into her acting career when she was discovered by a L’oreal casting director while pouring cocktails in a Soho bar. “[Acting] found me,” Pompeo explained to Backstage years later. “The signs were there that that’s what I was meant to do.”
Pompeo promptly moved to LA and scored her first role in the short film “Do You Have the Time” in 1995. Then, she promptly hustled her way into bigger and better things and had some success early in her career — her breakout role was in the feature film “Moonlight Mile” alongside Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman, and Jake Gyllenhaal. She then starred alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in the crime film “Catch Me If You Can.” However, even acting alongside big-name stars Pompeo still wasn’t working enough to pay the bills and by 2004 she was “perilously close” to being broke, per The Hollywood Reporter.
That’s when her agent brought her the script for “Grey’s Anatomy” — something that Pompeo had zero interest in. “I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years,” she recalled saying in THR. However, after Pompeo’s agent changed her mind, she booked the job, and the rest is history.
Ellen Pompeo had to fight to earn as much as her male co-star on Grey's Anatomy
“Grey’s Anatomy” was an instant success, but as the show’s popularity increased, lead actor Ellen Pompeo felt she wasn’t being paid what she deserved for her work. In an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo explained her experience of trying to angle for more money during the first few seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy.” According to Pompeo, her male co-star Patrick Dempsey was often used as “leverage” when she asked for a higher salary. “We don’t need you; we have Patrick,” she recalled being told more than once.
Pompeo had to fight to earn as much as Dempsey. “There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that,” she wrote. “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.” Pompeo was conflicted about remaining on the show but ultimately concluded that she couldn’t “let a guy drive [her] out of [her] own house.”
Pompeo later revealed to Variety that Dempsey had been earning “almost double” what she was at the show’s inception. “I didn’t even realize until we were renegotiating Season 3. No one was offering that up,” she added.
Shonda Rhimes helped Ellen Pompeo feel ready to ask for more money
Patrick Dempsey’s exit from “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2015 was a turning point for Ellen Pompeo. Following his departure, “the studio and network believed the show could not go on without the male lead. [But] I had a mission to prove that it could,” Pompeo explained in Variety.
Pompeo’s mission was successful and “Grey’s Anatomy” even saw a ratings spike after Dempsey’s departure. The renewed popularity of the show meant that Pompeo finally had the leverage and experience to ask for more. “I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age,” Pompeo wrote in her op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter.
The actor also credits showrunner Shonda Rhimes with lifting her up. “In Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me,” Pompeo explained, per THR. And while it took a while for both of them to reach that place, their “special” relationship is the result. “She got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power,” revealed Pompeo. The pair struck a multi-million dollar agreement which “incentivized” Pompeo and gave her “ownership” of “Grey’s Anatomy.” The result was $20 million a year deal for the real-life Meredith Grey that included a hefty signing bonus plus valuable equity points.
Product endorsements are Ellen Pompeo's side hustle
“Grey’s Anatomy” actor Ellen Pompeo makes a bit of extra cash promoting products on social media.
Take a stroll over to Pompeo’s Instagram feed, and you will find that it is lightly peppered with sponsored posts and ads. In 2018, the actor posted a video on Instagram to support the launch of a new baby care line. “One of my favorite essential oil companies, Young Living, is debuting a new line for our yummy little babies, it’s called Seedlings, it’s delicious and I can’t wait for everyone to see it,” said Pompeo. The actor has also been hugely supportive of Martha Stewart’s CBD line. “#MarthaStewartCBD is derived from 100% natural hemp & helps me sleep better at night,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a series of snaps promoting the products. “I love these,” Pompeo added on Instagram.
Though these product endorsements may seem like small potatoes for the actor who has made millions from “Grey’s Anatomy,” it’s not unusual to see celebrities posting sponsored content on social media. Pompeo seems to only share natural and ethical products that she genuinely loves and is passionate about, so it seems like a win-win all round.
Ellen Pompeo is a low-key property mogul
Alongside acting and producing, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo has a keen interest in property development. Pompeo and her husband, music producer-turned-fashion designer Chris Ivery, have been steadily investing and selling property all over the US for almost two decades. In 2005, the same year Pompeo bagged the role of Meredith Grey, the couple purchased a 1920s Spanish villa in the Hollywood Hills for $1.3 million, per Variety. In 2018, the outlet reported they sold the home for a whopping $2.765 million, which was more than twice what they paid for it.
This wasn’t the first place the pair had flipped for a hefty payday, either. Per the Los Angeles Times, the previous year, the couple sold their other Hollywood Hills abode, which they had been leasing out for around $7,000 per month. The split-level residence sold for $2.1 million, with Pompeo and Ivery making a sizable profit of $849,000 on the sale. At the beginning of 2020, Pompeo and Ivery made another move, letting go of their Sag Harbor retreat (which the actor designed herself) for $2.995 million, per Observer.
Not to worry though, the couple aren’t selling off all of their property. Pompeo and Ivery have a couple of private residences which they keep off the market, including their main home in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles and an additional Malibu house, according to Observer.
Ellen Pompeo chose financial security over creative projects
Ellen Pompeo has made a tonne of cash from “Grey’s Anatomy,” and the actor said that the financial stability she gets by remaining on the medical drama has been a major draw. “I made a decision to make money, and not chase creative acting roles,” revealed Pompeo on the podcast “Jemele Hill is Unbothered.”
Pompeo says that had she been in her early twenties (rather than early thirties) when she started the show, that she might have left to pursue other acting opportunities. “It didn’t make a lot of sense for me to walk away because I knew it was such a downloadable show … I want a piece of this pie too, I’m not just going to have one bite and walk away,” the actor explained to Hill. She also knew that walking away from this confirmed paycheck to give other gigs a go would be a lot of work. “I don’t like chasing anything ever, and acting to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing.”
Rather than feel like she’s given up her creativity, Pompeo would rather just see “Grey’s Anatomy” for the “blessing” that it is. It afforded her financial security and allowed her to have the home life she always wanted. Ultimately, Pompeo’s personal life became the priority. “The idea that I have this great husband and these three beautiful children [and] a happy home life was really something I needed,” she said.
A Grey's Anatomy spinoff adds to Ellen Pompeo's bank account
While continuing to act on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Ellen Pompeo has expanded her professional interests to include producing. Along with her producer credit on the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” Pompeo also gained stakes in the show’s spinoff “Station 19.” This comes as part of her deal with Shonda Rhimes, which, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, gives Pompeo backend equity plus a co-producer credit on the spinoff.
In the aforementioned Hollywood Reporter story, Pompeo called the deal she and Rhimes made “unprecedented” but said that it has helped her with producing and feeling empowered on set. This has a knock-on effect too, she explained to the outlet in 2018. “Now my 8-year-old daughter gets to come here and see fierce females in charge,” she shared. Pompeo enjoys using her position as an actor and producer to change things: “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.”
Yes, Pompeo has made serious cash from “Grey’s,” but it sounds like her involvement in the show has also made an awesome impact.
The producer hat sure suits Ellen Pompeo
Ellen Pompeo’s interest in producing extends beyond the “Grey’s Anatomy” universe, too. In 2011, Pompeo founded her own production company called Calamity Jane, according to Deadline. The name was inspired by the Wild West era adventurer, of course, plus Pompeo’s own experience. “Production and producing is a very male-dominated field, and I feel like Calamity Jane out there — trying to ride with the big boys,” she once said (via The Hollywood Reporter).
Branching out into producing has allowed the beloved TV star to get creative in a way that she wasn’t able to while solely acting on “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Producing is something I really enjoy. That’s my creativity now,” Pompeo wrote in her op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter.
Pompeo’s decision to focus on her creative passions behind the camera has definitely been paying off. Amazon scooped up an anthology series that she’s behind and, as The Hollywood Reporter reported in January 2021, she’s also working on a limited series for the Disney-owned network ABC. The drama will be based on Elin Hilderbrand’s “Paradise” book series, according to the outlet. Suffice to say, Pompeo sure wears a lot of cowboy hats.
Ellen Pompeo has a say in the future of Grey's Anatomy
There is no “Grey’s Anatomy” without Meredith Grey. Fans have been saying it for years, and now so is Shonda Rhimes. “The show will go on as long as Ellen [Pompeo] wants to do it,” the showrunner revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. But when the curtain does fall on Seattle Grace one final time, they don’t want to mess it up. As Pompeo said on “Sunday Morning” in 2021, “I just want to make sure we do this character and this show and the fans — I want to make sure we do it right.”
Pompeo gets a say in the future of the medical drama, including how and when the primetime soap ends, but it doesn’t look like that will happen just yet. “Ellen and I have a pact that I’m going to do the show as long as she’s going to do the show,” Rhimes told E! News in 2017. What’s more, “Grey’s Anatomy” is a very lucrative series and the program itself shows signs of slowing down; in May 2021, it was picked up for an 18th season.
“As long as there are fresh stories to tell and as long as we’re both excited about the stories being told, we’re in,” Rhimes said. Here’s hoping Pompeo and Rhimes continue bringing more seasons of the medical drama to our screens for years to come.
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