Grey’s Anatomy, which is entering Season 17 on ABC this fall, might’ve had a much shorter lifespan had opportunity knocked on Ellen Pompeo‘s door when she was in her 20s.
“If I started the show when I was younger, [like] 25, I probably would have dipped out when I was 31, 32, when my six-year contract was up,” the now 50-year-old actress shares in the latest episode of Jemele Hill’s Unbothered podcast. “I knew coming up on 40, it’s like, I don’t want to be out there chasing [film roles]… begging. I’d rather just see this as the blessing that it is.”
Elaborating on her decision to prioritize commerce over art, Pompeo said, “A healthy home life was more important than career. I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood… I [now] have this great husband and these three beautiful children, 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.”
Although ABC has not renewed Grey’s past its upcoming 17th season (which is when Pompeo’s current deal is set to expire), the network is already laying the groundwork for Season 18 and beyond. As reported last week, three of Pompeo’s co-stars — Kevin McKidd, Camilla Luddington and Kim Raver — have inked new contracts that would keep them on the show through a potential Season 19.
For her part, ABC president Karey Burke has previously stated that Grey’s will live on for “as long as Ellen is interested in playing Meredith Grey.”