Showrunner Shonda Rhimes encouraged her to ask for more money

By Jamie Spain
May 04, 2018 10:49 AM

Ellen Pompeo is the highest paid woman on television, but it wasn’t easy getting the paycheck she deserved.

The star told PEOPLE all about her struggle to “break the glass ceiling” while promoting Seedlings, Young Living Essential Oils new line of baby-safe products. Her partnership with the company was due to her love of essential oils, and her busy lifestyle as a mother of three.

Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Young Living

“I started using the Seedlings line [for my] 18-month-old son. I was happy to get on board and help promote them.” The star said, admitting that all of her children benefit from the family’s use of essential oils in many different aspects of life. “Essential oils are a little tool that I give my kids to be able to use to self soothe when they are feeling upset or anxious, wake them up, or make them feel creative.”

Credit: GREY'S ANATOMY - "True Colors" - The doctors of Grey Sloan encounter a difficult case involving a dangerous patient. Meanwhile, Owen receives life-changing news that pushes Amelia to step up to support him, and Alex attends a medical conference after making a shocking discovery, on "Grey's Anatomy," THURSDAY, MAY 11 (8:00-9:01 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) ELLEN POMPEO

Pompeo, 48, also discussed the negotiation of her $20 million salary, saying showrunner Shonda Rhimes encouraged her to ask for more money.

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“I was really tired and I knew [Shonda Rhimes] was stepping away, so it was a moment for me to say, If I’m going to stay, I’m away from my kids a lot, it’s really got to be worth my while. I have to break some glass ceiling to have it worth it for me to stay,” she said.

Shonda Rhimes
| Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

As the star of a show that generates a lot of money (and spinoffs), Pompeo knew that she deserved raise, but she had to be prepared to be told no. “I had [Shonda’s] support and I had the courage to do it and I was also completely willing to walk away. I was ready for it to not go my way, that’s the most important thing. It might not go your way, you’ve got to be okay with that,” she said.

Young Living Essential Oils’ new line, Seedings launched May 1. For more information about the products, go to