'Grey's Anatomy' 's Ellen Pompeo Talks Continued Need for Diversity in Writers Rooms: 'It's Not Enough'

The Grey's Anatomy star spoke to the show's writer's room and stars in front of the camera

Ellen Pompeo
Photo: Todd Williamson/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo is eager for change in Hollywood.

Grey's Anatomy has put minority characters in the spotlight on screen, but Pompeo said their stories can't come to authentic fruition without a diverse team behind the cameras and writing the scripts.

In a conversation with Insider about her company, Betr Remedies, Pompeo, 52, who stars as Meredith Grey, explained the success Grey's has had, and what still needs to change in Hollywood. "I still find that a lot of white people still feel like they've checked a box and they're good," she began.

She explained the work needs to be constant, and meeting a quota for representation doesn't mean much, especially when there's little representation among the storytellers behind the scenes.

"It's not enough to just have a Black character on a show, or an Asian character on a show, or a non-binary character on the show," she said. "You then have to back that up and have representation in the writers' room to write for that character."

Grey's Anatomy

In its 18 seasons (and counting), Grey's Anatomy has made representation a priority. They've welcomed non-binary characters, doctors with disabilities and represented doctors of many races. Some of the appearances, like a doctor with Asperger's in 2009, were criticized by the disabled and psychology communities for inauthentic portrayal.

Pompeo sees the progress on ABC, but is looking forward to more change. "I can only speak for our show, obviously. I don't work on anybody else's show, but I would say that I am still shocked at where we are," she said. "And I think that it's a constant. We don't get somewhere and then we're there and then the work is done."

The conversation with Pompeo came after show creator Rhimes, 51, opened up about the diversity of Grey's in conversation with Variety. In speaking of the show's legacy, which Rhimes noted has inspired many to pursue medical careers, she expressed the importance of representation.

"Sadly, I think the legacy might simply just be that we made it possible for more people of color to have jobs on camera on television, which makes me embarrassed for television," she said.

Rhimes also said that Grey's, which premiered in 2005, "changed the faces that you see on television." She added: "And it should not have taken so long for that to happen."

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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