Ellen Pompeo Net Worth: How She Became One of the Highest-Paid Actors on Television

Grey’s Anatomy is still one of ABC’s top television dramas currently on air, despite having aired over 300 episodes since 2005. The show’s star and title character, Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) wasn’t well-known before landing the role. She has since become one of the highest-paid TV drama actresses.

Though Pompeo has admitted the show probably won’t go on much longer — at least, not with her as the star — her work has certainly been worth the effort. Read on to learn more about how she earned her role on Grey’s, her net worth, and the best advice she ever got about negotiating a salary.

How Ellen Pompeo became Meredith Grey

Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

It took almost a decade for Pompeo’s acting career to take off. After moving to New York City, she worked on several ad campaigns, guest-starred on a handful of shows (including Friends — “The One Where the Stripper Cries”), and landed several movie roles.

It was her starring role in Moonlight Mile, however, that truly kickstarted her success on-screen. Only a few years after the movie premiered, she appeared on television as Dr. Meredith Grey for the first time.

Now in its 15th season, Grey’s Anatomy has maintained its ratings — and a following — for over 12 years. Her starring role earned her a Golden Globe nomination in 2007 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama. She won two People’s Choice awards in 2013 and 2015 for Favorite Dramatic TV Actress for the same role.

Ellen Pompeo’s net worth

The show’s long-standing popularity and numerous award nominations and wins have proven to both fans and the actress herself that hard work — literally — pays off.

Sources estimate Pompeo is worth anywhere between $30-40 million as of 2018. She now earns $20 million annually from her work on Grey’s Anatomy.

But she didn’t start out earning that much for portraying a doctor on television — and likely wouldn’t be earning as much per episode as she is now if it weren’t for the show’s creator.

Neither of the two women were in a position to make the final decision on Pompeo’s annual salary — the creator of a show doesn’t get to decide how much its actors get paid. But the actress may have received some worthwhile advice from the Grey’s showrunner.

Her salary per Grey’s Anatomy episode

Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo | ABC

Early in 2018, Pompeo revealed her annual salary for starring in the long-running Thursday night primetime drama series, saying, “It’s admired and celebrated when a male athlete [talks about his salary] and I think that’s precisely the reason why I decided to do it.”

She currently earns $575,000 per episode and — adding up bonuses and other related earnings — a total of $20 million a year.

This contract made her the highest-paid television drama actress of 2018.

On the topic of salary negotiations, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes told Pompeo, “Decide what you think you’re worth and then ask for what you think you’re worth. Nobody’s just going to give it to you.”

The show is ABC’s No. 2 drama behind The Good Doctor.