Ellen Pompeo, 50, has been playing the role of Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy since its premiere in 2005 and part of the reason she’s decided to stay has to do with her age and financial factors. The actress shared details about how the show has affected her and her family over time in a new interview on the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast and admitted that starting the role at the age of 33 is what led her to staying on the same path all these years.
“I got in the game late. I didn’t start Grey’s until I was 33, and then I started having kids at 40,” she said in the interview. “If I started the show when I was younger, [like] 25, I probably would have dipped out when I was 31, 32, [when] my six-year contract was up, but my age had a lot to do with it.”
She further explained that since she was no longer in her 20s, she felt like she’d have to “chase” other roles if she quit the popular ABC show and she wanted to make sure she had financial security and “make money” instead of having to “chase creative roles.” “I knew coming up on 40, it’s like, I don’t want to be out there chasing things, running after things, begging” she said. “I’d rather just see this as the blessing that it is.”
“At my age and where my life is, I just try to lean into it,” she continued. “I’m not trying to run away from anything. It is who I am. I made my choices and I’m cool with it. And I actually have a real passion, which is to sort of start to talk about and break down systemic racism in the healthcare industry. This is something that has plagued us forever. And I think the show has given me a real window into that.”
Ellen who shares three children, including Stella, 10, Sienna, 5, and Eli, 3, with husband Chris Ivery, also touched upon how although she’s extremely grateful for her work on Grey’s Anatomy, her life as a wife and mother will always be the most important thing to her. “For me, personally, a healthy home life was more important than career,” she said. “I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood. So the idea that I have this great husband and these three beautiful children [and] a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart.”
Grey’s Anatomy just finished airing its 16th season in Apr. and a 17th season is set to premiere later this year. You can listen to the full interview with Ellen on the Aug. 3 episode of the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast.