Ellen Pompeo is proud her hit series, Grey's Anatomy, is helping lives both on and off-screen
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Ellen Pompeo is proud that Grey’s Anatomy is helping lives both on and off-screen.

While on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Tuesday, the actress, 48, gushed about the fans that approach her “with tears in their eyes,” sharing how meaningful the show is to them.

Pompeo also told host Ellen DeGeneres about a teen actor on the show that revealed to her how the series helped him come out to his parents.

“A teenager was in the show, and he was gay, and played a gay character on the show. After we had filmed the whole entire episode he said, ‘My whole life I’ve watched the show with my parents and I’ve sort of used the show to tell my parents I’m gay,’ ” she said, before tearing up. “ ‘To show my parents: It’s okay that I’m not different and there’s nothing wrong with me. Grey’s really helped my parents to understand what having a gay son meant and that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.’ ”

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Reflecting on the interaction caused Pompeo to become emotional. “I got to keep doing it, man, because we’re touching lives and making a difference,” Pompeo, who directed her first episode, said about continuing on ABC’s long-running drama.

Last weekend, Pompeo was honored with a GLSEN Respect Award from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network for striving for gender parity in Hollywood.

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Credit: Kathryn Wirsing

The organization presented her with the Inspiration Award for her work with organizations like the child provision charity Baby2Bay, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the disability employment advocacy service Lifeworks, as well as her open support for LGBTQ equality and the #TimesUp movement.

“If you’re not old enough to vote, that is something that you can do that will make a real difference and really help kids,” she told young viewers, while urging them to get involved with their gay-straight alliance groups in schools.