Celebrity interviews can often feel like fluff pieces, with stars spending most of their time trying to convince readers how normal they are while living extraordinary lives. But Ellen Pompeo, who has played the titular character on Grey's Anatomy for an impressive 14 seasons, didn't sugarcoat a thing when talking about real, hard issues in her recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter . . . and we love it. In addition to proving she's one hell of a badass (the cover deemed her "TV's $20 Million Woman"), her words can also teach us normal people a thing or two about our careers and parenting.
To get what's fair, women, and mothers especially, need to fight for what they deserve.
One of the hardest things for many moms is returning to work postpartum. We can feel terrible and crippling guilt for not being with our children, partly because society still expects women to stay at home and partly because we just honestly miss our kids. That guilt has a tendency to manifest into less money for women in the workplace, either because employers assume women are less committed to their jobs or because they need a more flexible working environment to accommodate their children.
In Pompeo's interview, the outspoken actress made it quite clear that parity among men and women is paramount. "I'm 48 now, so I've finally gotten to the place where I'm OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age," she said. "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.'" While she acknowledges that her ability to argue for her salary was because she had the leverage of having been the main character for so long, she also accomplished it by knowing her worth. To get what's fair, women, and mothers especially, need to fight for what they deserve.
Pompeo acknowledges that this is even more important when children are involved. If a job is going to take you away from your children, it hopefully fulfills and validates you. "Directing is cool but, to be honest, it just takes me away from my kids," she continued. "So, it's got to be a ton of money. And it has to help me with my producing because producing is something I really enjoy. That's my creativity now."
Certainly for the average working woman, it's not always about being creatively fulfilled, but rather about a paycheck to survive. The message that I, a working mom of an attention-seeking toddler, am gleaming from this interview is that if something is going to take me away from my kid, it better be worth it. I will be paid fairly for my work and hopefully get to engage in something that fulfills me creatively. And since I know my worth, I will refuse to be taken advantage of. I'm valuable, as both an employee and a mother, and neither one takes anything away from the other.