"It's important for us to not pit women against each other," Pompeo tells Ellen DeGeneres.
"Grey's Anatomy" star Ellen Pompeo stopped by "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Thursday morning to discuss her fight to become the highest-paid actress on a primetime television drama and dispel the rumors that her paycheck had anything to do with Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew's decision to exit the series.
Pompeo recently revealed that she earns $20 million a year for her role as Meredith Grey in the ABC medical drama, and she told DeGeneres that she was inspired to do so in part by the comedian herself.
"I think there are certain moments where it's important to be really truthful about our pain and about our struggles," Pompeo said. "I recently read the article about your 20-year anniversary of your show and the whole story about you coming out and how painful that was, and look at what came out of that. I could cry just recalling that article. It was a monumental moment for the gay and lesbian community, for you and your life -- and like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, look at you now."
"Sometimes, you have to go through painful things to just be an example if you have a platform, and we have a platform," she continued. "I think as women, sometimes we're afraid to ask, we're afraid to be vocal, we're taught not to be. They like us quiet -- as we've seen from this administration -- so I think it's really important to encourage each other, encourage other women, to stand up and be strong and know that we will be OK and we have each other's backs."
DeGeneres then pointed out that "some people come from a place of lack" and think that "if somebody has something, I'm not gonna get it."
"Look at us! This is two Ellens, both with TV shows, we're both doing great, there's two seats at the table," Pompeo said. "'Because you have means I don't get' is a very deep-rooted thing where racism and sexism is based. And so it's important to talk about that and unearth that and just simply dispel it and say that is simply not true."
Pompeo also said that the rumors that her co-stars, Capshaw and Drew, are not returning for Season 15 because of Ellen's paycheck are "absolutely not true."
"I mean, I'm not involved in these kind of decisions; however, there's a few problems that you encounter doing a show for 14 seasons, and one of them is that the writers have a really hard time creatively, you know, thinking up new stories for all these characters," she explained. "It's always sad when we lose people for whatever reason. Whether they wanna go or they don't wanna go, it doesn't make it any easier."
"It's important for us to not pit women against each other and to really dispel the notion that women are always victims," she added. "You don't have to pit us against each other. We're not enemies. We do lift each other up and support each other, and we're not victims. We're very strong, and we're capable of many, many things."