Ellen Pompeo Talks $20 Million 'Grey's Anatomy' Salary: 'Women Should Be Able To Celebrate Too' (Exclusive)

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Ellen Pompeo is opening up about her decision to reveal her $20 million salary for Grey’s Anatomy.

“That was a tricky situation because you don’t normally want to talk about money and talk about your salaries,” the 48-year-old actress told ET on Tuesday at the New York City launch of Young Living Essentials Oils’ Seedlings baby care line. “It’s admired and celebrated when a male athlete does it and I think that’s precisely the reason why I decided to do it.”

In January, Pompeo revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she would be earning more than $20 million a year -- $575,000 per episode, along with a seven-figure signing bonus and two full backend equity points on the series, estimated to bring in another $6 million to $7 million. This massive deal made Pompeo the highest-paid actress in dramatic television.

“I caught a little flack in certain areas for doing it,” Pompeo revealed. “That’s OK, I can take a couple knocks. I’ll get back up.”

While anyone in the public eye has their fair share of haters, the love that Pompeo received for being so outspoken meant so much more to her. “The thing that’s been more meaningful is the women who have found it empowering and helpful,” Pompeo said. “I can’t tell you the amount of women who have approached me and just want to hug me and thank me for the audacity to be bold and maybe even a little crass, but authentic and explain my journey and my shortcomings, as well as my successes – has made it all worthwhile."

Pompeo treats her gig on ABC’s hit medical drama -- which is currently in its 14th season and has just been picked up for a 15th -- like an athlete would before a sports season. “You have to train for it, you have to prepare for it, you have to work out, eat right and get your rest and hydrate," she explained. "To work the hours we have to work it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Perhaps that is why the actress and mother of three followed in famous athletes’ footsteps when it came to addressing her salary. “If Kobe Bryant, and I know he doesn’t play anymore, but if these athletes can make these paychecks and it can be celebrated, women should be able to celebrate too.”

As for what awaits in the remaining 3 episodes of Grey’sAnatomy’s 14th season, Pompeo revealed it will be “classic Grey’s finale time,” adding, “It’s going to be devastating, and then we’re going to pull you out of devastating and make you smile.”

In the meantime, Pompeo is on hiatus from filming the medical drama and promoting the Young Living Essential Oils’ Seedlings baby care line. “I am a big lover of essential oils, I use them all the time. I use them all over my house, I use them on my kids, I really believe in the power of aromatherapy."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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