Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo delivered some bold feedback to fashion magazine Porter during an on-camera interview for the magazine's own 'Women in Television' issue.
The star, 49, raised eyebrows when she called out the mag during a roundtable discussion with fellow actresses Emma Roberts, Gina Rodriguez and Gabrielle Union.
Speaking about the issue of diversity in Hollywood, Pompeo used the magazine's own set as an example.
"This day has been incredible, and there's a ton of women in the room, but I don't see enough colour, and I didn't see enough colour when I walked in the room today," she said, a statement that elicited an array of looks from her fellow actresses:
"And meeting with a director of another endorsement project that I'm doing, I said: 'You know, when I show up on set, I would like to see the crew look like the world that I walk around in every day.' And I think it's up to all productions to make sure your crew looks like the world we see. As caucasian people, it's our job, it's our task, it's our responsibility to make sure that we speak up in every single room we walk into, that this is not OK, and we can all do better. It's our job, because we've created the problem."
Pompeo's mic-drop moment earned her praise online — including from Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes:
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) November 19, 2018
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 20, 2018
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) November 20, 2018
I love Ellen Pompeo so much. She normalizes the idea of diversity for other white people who don't understand it. Instead of acting like she should be praised for it, she recognizes that it is NORMAL to want and have diversity and representation. https://t.co/hMVEa1D5Qg
— sai (@Saisailu97) November 20, 2018
the only thing better than ellen pompeo using her privilege correctly in this video is gabrielle union's "spill the tea sis" reaction to it https://t.co/7oRyvB8m3r
— vardaan arora (@vardaanarora) November 19, 2018
I love Gabrielle Union's face here, like she FINALLY doesn't have to be the one saying this. FINALLY.
— Chrissa (@chrissahardy) November 19, 2018
In the full video of the interview, Rodriguez and Union — both actresses of colour — said that they too noticed the lack of diversity in the room, but had not felt comfortable bringing up the topic.
"That's why it's our job; that's why it's OUR job," said Pompeo, who by this point was in tears.
Watch the whole exchange from 16:20 below:
Pompeo has earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's most refreshingly frank celebrities in recent years, giving a staggeringly honest interview to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year detailing the pros and cons of starring on a TV show as successful and long-running as Grey's Anatomy.
She explained in detail how she negotiated with Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes, who this year moved on from the show to a new Netflix deal.
"What I said to Shonda is the truth — I don't get to do anything else, and that's frustrating for me creatively. I make 24 episodes of TV a year, and as part of this deal, I cannot appear anywhere else. And directing is cool but, to be honest, it just takes me away from my kids."
Pompeo recently secured a $25 million annual deal ($716,000 per episode) — but it wasn't easy.
"What happened is that I went to Shonda and I said, 'If you're moving on to Netflix and you want the show to go down, I'm cool with that. But if you want it to continue, I need to be incentivised. I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show.'"
She added: "CAA compiled a list of stats for me, and Grey's has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney. When your face and your voice have been part of something that's generated $3 billion for one of the biggest corporations in the world, you start to feel like, 'OK, maybe I do deserve a piece of this.'"
But before she successfully negotiated the hefty pay packet, Pompeo had an uphill battle.
"For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — 'We don't need you; we have Patrick' — which they did for years. I don't know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that."