Actors On Actors: TV
Ellen Pompeo may be one of TV’s most recognizable faces thanks to her long-running tenure on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but that doesn’t mean she’s always been paid a commensurate amount. Pompeo…
Ellen Pompeo may be one of TV’s most recognizable faces thanks to her long-running tenure on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but that doesn’t mean she’s always been paid a commensurate amount.
Pompeo revealed that she didn’t receive pay equity with co-star Patrick Dempsey until some time into “Grey’s” during her conversation with Taraji P. Henson for Variety’s “Actors on Actors.”
“We became favored nations, I would say, season 3,” Pompeo said, meaning neither actor could be paid more than the other.
“He was being paid almost double what I was being paid for in the beginning,” she continued. “But the interesting thing about that was, you know, he had had a television quote. I had never done TV.”
Henson made clear that she could relate the Pompeo’s former plight.
“I know that story!” she exclaimed.
Pompeo went on to express her skepticism at the producers’ line of reasoning: “So that’s what they said, ‘He’s done 13 pilots.’ Well, none of them have gone! I don’t understand why, but okay.”
She explained that she didn’t even find out that Dempsey was being paid more than her or the supposed logic behind the discrepancy until the time came to renegotiate her contract for season 3. She admitted that even if she had known, she doesn’t think she would have “had the self-esteem or the courage if I found that information out season 2, to do anything about it. I don’t know that I would’ve.”
Henson similarly recounted how she had started out receiving a smaller paycheck than “Empire” co-star Terrence Howard, though she attributed the difference to his longer and more developed resume. However, in season 2, when her character Cookie began “popping off,” she knew it was time for her to receive equal pay.
“At this time, Cookie had become iconic at this point,” she explained. “Now you need her, so, now I need my money.”
“Actors on Actors” will air on PBS June 18th and 20th.