Pompeo spoke to People about her run on the veteran ABC series (the show is entering its 13th season this fall), and opened up about her thought process when she first accepted the role of Dr. Meredith Grey.
"My decision to stay on 'Grey's' was based solely on age," Pompeo told People. "At 33, I was wise enough to know my clock was already ticking in Hollywood."
The magazine continues:
The actress, who says she got a "super late start" in the industry, landing her first roles in her mid-20s, admits that if she'd been younger, "I probably would have done my time, then gone out to search for other things." But as her contract renegotiations loomed she "was definitely aware of how challenging it would be to find other roles in my late 30s and early 40s."
Despite acknowledging the depressing reality of a dearth of roles for older women, Pompeo ultimately doesn't have any regrets about her situation, telling People that she's thankful for every minute she's spent on the show.
"I thought, 'Why would I leave something that is super successful and pays me great to search the landscape?'" the actress told the magazine. "I decided that I would stay on 'Grey's' and be grateful and try to ride it out for as long as I could. And I am very happy that I made the decision to stay. It's only gotten better with time."
It seems "Grey's" fans would agree, since their loyal viewership has kept the series on the air for so many years. The show returns for season 13 on September 22.
Photo credit: Getty Images for Marc Jacobs