The 48-year-old Grey’s Anatomy star appeared on Thursday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show where she opened up about the rumors surrounding the exits of her co-stars Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew.
Host DeGeneres noted that it had been rumored that the two actresses were leaving the ABC medical drama because Pompeo’s $20 million salary was too big and the show could no longer afford them.
She went on to explain a potential reason for the two stars leaving the show after nearly a decade.
“I mean, I’m not involved in these kind of decisions, however, there’s a few problems that you encounter doing a show for 14 seasons,” she explained. “One of them is the writers have a really hard time creatively thinking up new stories for all these characters. I think we have 16 regular cast members, and I think it’s always sad when we lose people for whatever reason. Whether they want to go or don’t want to go, it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Pompeo, who was open about her salary in a recent Hollywood Reporter cover story, didn’t like how her co-stars exits led to the reports involving her own earnings.
“I think that it’s important for us to not pit women against each other and to really dispel the notion that women are always victims,” she said. “You don’t have to pit us against each other. We’re not enemies. We do lift each other up and support each other, and we’re not victims. We’re very strong and we’re capable of many, many things.”
After opening up about her fight for equal pay on a show that bears her character’s name in THR, Pompeo said she’s received wonderful feedback from women everywhere.
“The women who have approached me from all walks of life since this article came out, I’ve really been shocked and so moved about how so many women just run up to me and want to share their stories because I think as women sometimes we’re afraid to ask,” she said. “We’re afraid to be vocal, we’re taught not to be… I think it’s really important to encourage each other, to encourage other women to stand up and be strong. We will be ok and we have each other’s backs.”
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Following the news of their departures earlier this month, Capshaw and Drew released their own statements.
"I know you're sad. I'm sad too. I haven't really had the time to process this information. I've been with it for less than 48 hours, so I'm not ready to say my thank yous and give an all-encompassing statement about my 9 years here. That will come later," Drew wrote. "For now, I'd like to say: I love you, and I love April, and her story isn't over yet."
Capshaw issued a similarly sentimental statement, writing, "I am sad to see [Arizona] go, but I am consoled by the idea that she will continue to live on and on in all of our consciences and our imaginations."
For more from Grey’s Anatomy, watch the clip below!