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Katherine Heigl rose to fame on Grey’s Anatomy portraying Dr. Isobel (Izzie) Stevens for almost six seasons. Leaving the prime time hit in 2010, the actress’s departure was not without controversy. Heigl had already withdrawn from the 2008 Emmy’s and publicly complained about working conditions on the show, branding her with a reputation as “difficult.”

Leaving the prime time hit after adopting her first child, Heigl shared that some of those negative comments affected her more than others.

Katherine Heigl of 'Grey's Anatomy'
Katherine Heigl of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ | Michael Desmond/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star’s Emmy comments not well received

Though the actress won an Emmy for her role on Grey’s in 2007, Heigl publicly decided to pull out of the running the following year.

“I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention,” Heigl stated, according to Entertainment Weekly. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”

Tabloids had a field day with Heigl’s comments, speculating that she wanted to get out of her contract for a film career. Adding insult to injury, Heigl vocalized her frustration in a late night talk show interview regarding what she considered harsh working conditions on Grey’s. This only added to her tarnishing name in the industry.

Though the Grey’s star apologized to show creator Shonda Rhimes on the Emmy debacle, the media mogul was not fully buying it. “On some level, it stung and on some level I was not surprised,” Shonda told Oprah Winfrey in 2012 of the actress’s actions. “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Motherhood motivated Katherine Heigl’s exit

While public opinion assumed Heigl was in a rush to leave Grey’s for the big screen, the actress revealed that adopting her daughter Naleigh was the true catalyst.

“I had actually started talking to Shonda Rhimes over a year ago about the idea of moving on,” Heigl told Entertainment Weekly in 2010. “I had told her that I wanted to start a family — Josh and I were in the process of adoption — and I wanted to warn her. And she was really respectful and supportive.”

Though the Suits actress considered trying to juggle work and family, she felt the shooting schedule of Grey’s would take too much time away from her daughter.

“I think it was a little bit shocking for everybody, and a little bit like, ‘Can’t we find a way to work it out?’” Heigl recalled. “And I really wanted to, but at the same time I just felt like I couldn’t sacrifice my relationship with my child. … I want this child to know that she will forever have me in her corner and I don’t want to disappoint her.”

‘Grey’s’ alum regretted previous statements

Reflecting on her past comments regarding the Emmy’s and the show’s scheduling demands, Heigl realized she caused the backlash she was receiving. When asked how she felt about being perceived as an “ungrateful diva,” the actress revealed the moniker truly affected her.

“The ungrateful thing bothers me the most. And that is my fault,” Heigl admitted. “I allowed myself to be perceived that way because I was being whiny and I was griping and because I made these snarky comments.”


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Coming to terms with her mistakes, Heigl’s goal was to change the public’s perception. “So much about living life, to me, is about humility and gratitude. … I’m just so disappointed in myself that I allowed it to slip,” she explained. “There’s nothing more gross than [the idea of] somebody in my position being ungrateful… And I hope that in the coming years I can change people’s minds about that. The six years [I spent on Grey’s] were important years… I let myself demean something that was actually very beautiful and very important.”

Heigl is currently working on her Netflix series Firefly Lane.