Ellen Pompeo, star of ABC’s long-running hit, Grey’s Anatomy, is now the highest paid actress on TV after signing on for two more seasons of the show.

She’s set to make US$575,000 (RM2.27mil) an episode – not including a signing bonus – totaling US$20mil (RM78.75mil) should ABC pick up Grey’s Anatomy for seasons 15 and 16, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Pompeo is also now a Grey’s Anatomy’s producer and will co-executive produce the show’s upcoming firefighter-themed spinoff.

But these powerful new titles and serious payday weren’t just handed to the doctor drama’s lead actress, she revealed.

Pompeo said she – with the support of friend, boss, mentor and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes – first had to feel “empowered” enough to ask for it.

Pompeo has dedicated her career to the medical TV show, and has not been able to branch out creatively. – handout

“I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve,” Pompeo told THR. “Things have changed … In Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me.

“She got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented.”

Pompeo said she was worried she was asking for too much money but thought, “maybe I do deserve a piece of this,” she said, after her management company, CAA, told her that Grey’s Anatomy has generated about US$3bil (RM11.8bil) for Disney, ABC’s parent company.

And since Pompeo has dedicated her acting career to the show, she hasn’t been able to branch out creatively, she said, making the TV show that much more central to her professional life and future livelihood.

“I said to Shonda,” Pompeo said, “ ‘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 … 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.’ ”

Pompeo will add producer to her résumé halfway through this current season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which returns from its mid-season break this week. -New York Daily News/Tribune News Service