Ellen Pompeo Just Outed Herself As A Karen Unprovoked

Photo: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images.
Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo just gave us an unsolicited glimpse of her surprising, behind-the-scenes power trip, revealing that the woman behind your favorite TV doctor is actually a whole Karen out here.
On a new episode of her podcast Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo, the actress reconnected with her former TV husband Patrick Dempsey (Dr. Derek Shepherd) to reminisce about their time on Grey’s. What should have been a delightful reunion between two of pop culture’s most beloved fictional couples quickly went left when Pompeo promised she had a “good Denzel story” to tell and then recounted a particularly tense behind-the-scenes experience with a guest director, the legendary Denzel Washington. Washington, who was making his small screen directorial debut on Grey’s, was overseeing the production of an emotional episode in which Pompeo’s character, Meredith, had to confront a patient who’d broken her jaw during an epileptic event. The scene was especially tense, and Pompeo wanted to up the ante for the emotionally charged moment, choosing to improvise her dialogue with her scene partner.
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“He made this choice to speak very softly,” Pompeo told Dempsey of the character that Meredith was confronting during the scene. “And [Meredith] was pissed that [she] had to sit there and listen to this apology, and he wasn’t looking [her] in the eye,” she said of her scene partner. “Again, we love actors who make choices, right? And I yelled at him, and I was like, ‘Look at me when you apologize. Look at me.’ That wasn’t in the dialogue, and Denzel went ham on my ass.”
“'I'm the director,'” the Grey’s star recalled Washington saying from the director’s chair. 'Don't you tell him what to do.' I was like, 'Listen, motherf*cker — this is my show! This is my set! Who are you telling? You barely know where the bathroom is!’”
She went on to share that she played victim to his wife Pauletta when she later visited the set, saying, “[Denzel] yelled at me today...I’m not okay with him, and I’m not looking at him, and I’m not talking to him.”
Now, there are several brow-raising points in this whole tale, but the biggest question I have for Pompeo is probably the same one Mrs. Pauletta asked: Why are you telling us this? 
From start to end, there’s nothing about this story that makes for a “good Denzel story.” To begin with, Pompeo noted that Debbie Allen (Grey’s executive producer, frequent director, and recurring cast member) had personally invited Washington to direct the episode as a favour, knowing that the show’s leading lady was a huge fan of his work and would be thrilled to work under his leadership. It’s very strange that someone who is so familiar with Washington’s approach toward acting would be so pressed that he was asserting his rights as the director — isn’t maintaining control of a scene exactly what he came to set to do?
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Besides the fact that we’re talking about Denzel Thee Washington here — John Q! Training Day! Malcolm X! Antwone Fisher! — Pompeo’s intense response to his direction and her decision to brag about cursing at him on set years later speaks to a type of power that only certain people (and you know what type) have in Hollywood. This isn’t to say that directors should be omnipotent on set; there are some people at the helm of TV shows and films that need to be gathered. And through her 16 years on the show, Pompeo has risen from unknown actress to one of the show’s producers and the highest paid actress in television. But if she’s speaking that way to Denzel, how is she speaking to other members of the cast and crew? From the way that Pompeo described the interaction, Washington was simply doing his job by maintaining the order of his set. Claiming that a Black man “went nuts on her,” and needing to put him in his place  — "This is my show!" — is Karen behaviour, plain and simple.
We’ve all encountered a Karen before: a woman, typically white, who believes that God left her in charge of the earth and everyone in it. Whether it’s calling the police on people for no reason, touching your hair without permission, or cussing out the A-list actor recruited to direct an a episode of a TV show, Karens are always going out of their way to assert their dominance over other people, and when their behaviour is rightfully reciprocated, they go into victim mode. In Pompeo’s case, she tattled to a Black woman like she was going to take the actress’ side over her husband’s, then went public years later to boost publicity for her new podcast. 
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This isn’t Pompeo’s first offence, either. In 2016, she used her Black husband and biracial children as a shield for accountability when called out for exerting white privilege on Twitter. In a 2015 roundtable conversation about racism in Hollywood, she talked over another Black star, Viola “The Thespian” Davis, to assert her position that if racial ignorance led to progress, “I’ll take the ignorance,” and then tearfully walked out of the room when Davis mildly pushed back. Apparently, everywhere Pompeo is, it’s “her show.” The Grey's star did go on to sing Washington's praises on the podcast, calling him "crazy charismatic," but the damage was already done; she'd outed herself as a Karen, once again, and the person on the other end of that tantrum just happened to be one of the most respected people in Hollywood and Black culture. It didn't take long before [Black] Twitter was on her head.
The wildest thing about this whole situation? Nobody even asked for that story. Sharing it with the world unprovoked might be the most Karen part of it all. 
R29Unbothered has reached out to both Washington and Pompeo for comment.

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