Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is the latest actor to call for an inclusive group of journalists at press junkets, saying she will “make sure reporters who are people of color get to come in and interview me” going forward. Pompeo was speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday afternoon, alongside PR maven Richard Edelman, whose communications and marketing firm partnered with Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes and Dove in the female-led Real Beauty Productions.
Pompeo referenced comments made earlier this month by Brie Larson at the Women in Film Los Angeles Crystal + Lucy Awards when she called for publicists to ensure they invite an inclusive group of reporters to their press lines and junkets. Recently, Pompeo recounted, she had been hired to endorse a brand, and of 35 female reporters attending the junket, only three were women of color. So she said to herself, “The next time I do something like this I’m going to make sure ahead of time that reporters who are people of color get to come in and interview me.”
During the panel, Pompeo also touched on the Grey’s deal which saw her sign on for two more years and in the process become the highest-paid actress in television. As a woman and with regard to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, “The timing was everything.” But she was also “lucky enough” to have access to data that helped quantify her worth to the show. And, “The studio didn’t have two key players to leverage against me. They no longer had Patrick Dempsey or Shonda. They had nobody left to hang the franchise hat on.”
Turning to the subject of marketing, when Edelman spoke to the value of influencers, and noted that “celebrities have very little trust level at the moment,” Pompeo reacted in defense. “The truth is, influencers nobody really knows. You know them from their Instagram account, the only version you get is what they want to say.” But celebrities “get followed around. We have a much more public profile and you are able to see a broader spectrum of what celebrities and true high-profile people are about, what types of things they support and endorse, where they go, who they’re with rather than some influencers taking photos in a controlled environment.”
She was asked if social media is a double-edged sword. “In being authentic,” Pompeo allowed, “I lose my patience when it comes to issues of race. I have no patience or tolerance and I get really nasty back.” She was referencing an incident in February when Ingraham called out basketball stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, telling them to “shut up and dribble” after they criticized Donald Trump. At the time, Pompeo had tweeted, “Someone tell this bitch to meet me outside…”
Pompeo told the Cannes audience today she had no regrets. “LeBron who is a hero for so many children around the world, for her to say something is nothing else but racism. She can call it anything she wants, but it’s just racism.”