Ellen Pompeo on Finding 'My Stride and My Power' over 400 Episodes of 'Grey's Anatomy'

Ellen Pompeo has portrayed Dr. Meredith Grey for 18 seasons on ABC's hit medical drama

Photo: Mike Rosenthal/ABC

Ellen Pompeo is reflecting on her 18 seasons on Grey's Anatomy.

On Thursday, the actress — who has been starring as Dr. Meredith Grey on ABC's hit medical drama since 2005 — opened up about her journey on the series and how it's changed her life for the better.

"My life doesn't parallel [Meredith's] so much because I'm not a doctor, but I'll tell you, I've had three children and I got married and I've turned into a completely different person doing the show," she told PEOPLE at Grey's Anatomy 400th Episode Celebration in Hollywood on Thursday.

"I was able to find my stride and my power," she continued. "There's something really satisfying about knowing where I started and what my head space was and where I was emotionally when I started and where I am now and everything I've learned and everything who's taught me what I've learned."

She added, "I've learned a lot from everybody that I've worked with. I think that's the most meaningful part about being on this show for 18 seasons is I have learned a lot and I'm really grateful for every part of it. The good, the bad, the ugly, the fantastic. Every moment, as I now know with three children, is a teaching moment. I've been lucky to really be present and learn all the lessons."

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy. Richard Cartwright/ABC via Getty

Last month, ABC announced that the network has ordered a 19th season of the iconic and longest-running primetime medical drama series.

In the upcoming season, the record-breaking Shondaland series will explore the ever-expanding world of modern medicine through the eyes of beloved returning and new characters, according to a press release obtained by PEOPLE. Executive producer and showrunner Krista Vernoff will continue to lead the series.

Though Pompeo's character could be walking away from Grey Sloan Memorial sooner than we think — leaving fans to wonder how much of Meredith we will we see next season.

When asked how involved she'll be in the upcoming season, Pompeo wasn't giving anything away: "I'm not telling you!"

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As cast members have come and gone over the years, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. have stood beside Pompeo as the show's only lead actors to remain for all 18 seasons.

Despite the show's renewal, Pompeo has been vocal in recent months about the possibility of Grey's coming to an end. Last September, she told Entertainment Tonight that she's been "trying to get away for years."

"It's not because I haven't been trying," she said of leaving Meredith behind. "I have strong relationships at the network [ABC] and they have been very, very good to me, and have incentivized me to stay."

Pompeo, who serves as a producer on the show, also told Variety in 2020 that Grey's would likely end when she leaves. "I don't take the decision lightly," she said at the time. "We employ a lot of people, and we have a huge platform. And I'm very grateful for it."

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

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