I love Grey’s Anatomy, a medical drama series that focuses on a group of doctors at a hospital in Seattle. While I can get into details about what makes this show so amazing, recent headlines have given me a whole new appreciation for the show, its cast members and creator, Shonda Rhimes. Last week, Ellen Pompeo, who plays the lead role as Meredith Grey on the show, was featured on The Hollywood Reporter, where she revealed how she became the highest paid actress on TV and shared some of her personal behind the scenes battles to negotiate the salary she deserved.
According to Pompeo, the person who empowered her to overcome any doubts about her worth and motivated her to negotiate for a deal that was deserving of her was her boss and mentor, Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes shared “I know for a fact that when men go into these negotiations, they go in hard and ask for the world.” Constant advice and support from Rhimes who reminded Pompeo to “Decide what you think you’re worth and then ask for what you think you’re worth [because] nobody’s just going to give it to you,” combined with strategy and confidence resulted in Pompeo’s new deal: “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.”
While many celebrities avoid discussing their paychecks in the press, Pompeo decided to seize the moment and share her journey and her struggles to get to this moment as a way to empower other women to also seek what they deserve. In being so public about her success and her achievements, she did not miss the opportunity to highlight how important Rhimes was to her own evolution. In essence, Pompeo and Rhimes are a prime example of what is possible when women collaborate and uplift one another. As Pompeo shared, “in Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me… 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.”
For too long, we have been in competition with one another; social structures led us to believe that there was not enough space for more than one of us at the table and so came about many negative stereotypes about the lack of woman to woman support. In a time where we are uniting to let the world know we are sick and tired of the inequities and #TimesUp, it is also time for us to realize how much more we can accomplish if we encourage one another and guide each other to fight for what we deserve and not just what we’re made to believe we are worth.
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