Ellen Pompeo may forever be known as Dr. Meredith Grey—and that’s ok with her.
Going into her 17th season on Grey’s Anatomy, the longtime actress is practically synonymous with the hit ABC series at this point. Unlike many of her former co-stars, who have moved on to other acting projects, Pompeo hasn’t taken on another role in 15 years aside from voicing a Doc McStuffins character and appearing in Taylor Swift‘s “Bad Blood” music video in 2015. But, as the star explained on the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast, the way her career has shaped out was a conscious decision.
“I made choices to stay on the show,” the mom of three told Hill. “For me personally, a healthy home life was more important than career. I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood. So, to have a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart, and so I made a decision to make money and not chase creative acting roles.”
“I don’t like chasing anything ever, and acting to me in my experience was a lot of chasing,” the self-proclaimed “hustler” continued. “You gotta chase roles, you gotta beg for roles, you gotta convince people…and although I produce and it’s the same kind of a thing, I think I still do it from a place of, I’m never that thirsty because I’m financially set.”
Pompeo—who is mom to Stella, 10, Sienna, 5, and Eli, 3—famously publicized her $20 million salary in 2018. As she explained to Hill, being the lead of the show spurred her to fight for her fair share.