Birthdate: November 10, 1969
Birthplace: Everett, Massachusetts, United States
Full Name: Ellen Kathleen Pompeo
Height: 5 ft. 7 inches (170 cm)
Eye Colour: Green
Hair Colour: Light brown
Husband: Chris Ivery (m. 2007)
Children: 2 daughters, Stella Luna (b. 2009) and Sienna (b. 2014), and 1 son, Eli Christopher (b. 2016)
Mother: Kathleen B. (O’Keefe)
Father: Joseph Pompeo
Siblings: Ellen has three sisters and two brothers for a total of five siblings.
Best Known For: Portraying Meredith Grey on ABC Studios’ Grey’s Anatomy (2005-present)
Ellen Kathleen Pompeo was born in Everett, Massachusetts on November 10, 1969 to Kathleen B. (née O’Keefe) and Joseph E. Pompeo. Her father was of Italian, English, and Irish descent, while her mother was of Irish ancestry. She was raised Roman Catholic. Her mother died of a painkiller overdose when Ellen was four, and her father remarried soon after; he died on September 1, 2012. In 2006, Pompeo told Allure “I think having my mother die at such a very young age – when she was 33 – I appreciate life so much”. She has five siblings: three sisters and two brothers. She was nicknamed “the pencil” because she was so thin as a child, and stracciatella (an ice cream flavor).
During her early twenties, Pompeo worked as a bartender in Miami, which is where she was living when she met her then-boyfriend, fashion photographer Andrew Rosenthal. Together, the two moved to New York City in 1995 where Ellen was approached by a casting director and subsequently began working in commercials and small independent films. Her television debut came in 1996 with a guest-starring role on Law & Order.
Following her appearance on Law & Order, Pompeo guest-starred on Strangers With Candy, Strong Medicine, and Friends, where she appeared as Missy Goldberg, a girl from college whom Ross and Chandler fought over who got to ask her out.
Ellen made the move to Los Angeles in 2001 so that she could further her acting career. Her big break came in 2002, when director Brad Silberling chose her for a lead role in his film Moonlight Mile. She played Jake Gyllenhaal’s love interest. Pompeo has also appeared in Catch Me if You Can (opposite Leonardo DiCaprio), Old School, and Daredevil. Pompeo was also cast for a small part in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and although her scenes were cut, she felt grateful that director Michel Gondry had selected her for the film.
Pompeo landed her first major role in 2005 on the ABC medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy, created by Shonda Rhimes. She plays the title character and series’ protagonist, Dr. Meredith Grey, a surgical intern at a prestigious hospital in Seattle, WA. Grey’s Anatomy became a breakout hit in 2005, and in later seasons was the highest-rated television drama in the key 18-49 demographic. Initially, Pompeo was paid a mere $200 per episode; as of 2013, this salary has increased to $350,000 per episode along with millions from syndication.
Pompeo launched her own production company, Calamity Jane, in October 2011. As of 2016, Calamity Jane had sold its first project to ABC, an untitled show about female agents on the Secretary of State’s security detail. It was announced in August 2014 that Pompeo was developing two dramas with ABC Studios – an adaptation of Rachel Carey’s 2013 novel Debt for ABC Family, and an untitled female police drama for ABC.
In September 2014, Pompeo speculated that she may not continue to act after Grey’s Anatomy ends its run, stating that, “I definitely don’t have a strong desire to act after Grey’s. I definitely feel myself transitioning. I don’t find acting terribly empowering.”
Ellen began dating her now husband, music producer Chris Ivery in 2003. They married on November 9, 2007, with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg serving as the legal witness to the ceremony. Pompeo and Ivery have two daughters together: Stella Luna (born September 2009) and Sienna May (born August 2014, via surrogacy), as well as a son, Eli Christopher (born 2016, via surrogacy).
Awards and Nominations
Ellen has been nominated for multiple awards for her performances in Grey’s Anatomy. At the 2006 Satellite Awards, she and the Grey’s Anatomy cast won Best Ensemble in a Television Series. The following year, she was named Best Actress in a Television Drama Series. Ellen was among the Grey’s Anatomy cast members awarded the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series accolade at the 13th Screen Actors Guild Awards, and received nominations in the same category in 2006 and 2008. Pompeo received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series nomination in 2007 and Grey’s Anatomy won Best Drama Series at the same ceremony. Also in 2007, Pompeo and the female cast and crew of Grey’s Anatomy received the Women in Film Lucy Award, which honors those “whose work in television has positively influenced attitudes toward women.”
Ellen’s performance on Grey’s Anatomy has earned three People’s Choice Awards, along with several other nominations. At the 37th People’s Choice Awards in 2011, she was nominated against Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh in the Favorite TV Doctor category, and the following year, she was a contender in the Favorite TV Drama Actress category. Pompeo won the category at the People’s Choice Awards in 2013, 2015, and 2016. She is nominated again for Favorite TV Drama Actress at the 43rd People’s Choice Awards, scheduled for January 2017.
Pompeo attended a National Italian American Foundation black-tie gala in Washington, D.C. on October 13, 2007 where she was honored with a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Entertainment for her portrayal of Dr. Meredith Grey.
In 2007, show-business awards reporter Tom O’Neil commented that Pompeo was overdue an Emmy Award nomination for her role in Grey’s Anatomy. Readers of O’Neil’s awards website, The Envelope, included Pompeo in their 2009 nominations for Best Drama Actress in the site’s Gold Derby TV Awards.
Ellen is a native of Boston.
Before she was cast in Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen auditioned for another show, “Secret Service”, but it was not picked up by any network.
She is the youngest of six children, and all of her five siblings are at least eight years older than her.
She has asthma.
Ellen was discovered while working at the SoHo Bar & Grill in New York City.
Her favourite candy is red gummy bears.
Her beauty secrets are simply drinking lots of water and being happy.
Ellen’s first word as a baby was ‘pepperoni’.
In 2011, Pompeo was named the ninth highest paid television actress with earnings of $7 million.
By 2016, Ellen was the fourth highest paid television actress, with earnings of $14 million.
Ellen married her husband, Chris Ivery, on November 9, 2007 in a civil ceremony in New York City.
Although she is not vegan, Ellen tries to make conscious food and lifestyle choices that will help protect the environment.
Ellen appeared in Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video in 2015, alongside Mariska Hargitay. Her character’s name was Luna.
Taylor Swift named her cat ‘Meredith Grey’ after Ellen’s character on Grey’s Anatomy. However, Ellen hasn’t met her namesake, stating that she is very allergic to cats, so “it could be awkward”.
She presented the award for Top Female Artist to Taylor Swift at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards.