In January, Pompeo spoke with The Hollywood Reporter for a story where the actress disclosed her $20 million paycheck, in hopes of encouraging others to ask for more. She’s currently the highest-paid actress in a drama on television. When Ellen asked her why she decided to open up about her salary, Pompeo responded, “There are certain moments where it's important to be really truthful about our pain and about our struggles,” comparing it to the moment DeGeneres came out 20 years ago. “Sometimes you have to go through painful things to just be an example," she said.
The two Ellens then talked about how important it is to emphasize that there is plenty of room in the industry for everyone to be successful. “Look at us. This is two Ellens. Both with TV shows. We’re both doing great,” Pompeo said. “‘Because you have, means I don’t get’ is a very deep rooted thing where racism and sexism is based, and so it’s important to talk about that...and simply dispel it and say that is simply not true.”
DeGeneres then asked the 48-year-old actress about the rumor that her salary caused costars Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew to leave the show. "It's absolutely not true," she said. "I mean, I'm not involved in these kinds of decisions. However, there's a few problems that you encounter doing a show for 14 seasons. 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 it's always sad when we lose people—whether they want to go or they don't want to go. It doesn't make it any easier."
Pompeo stressed the importance of women supporting each other. "You don't have to pit [women] against each other. We're not enemies," she said. "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."