"It's a super-scary thing to do — to be a high-profile person and put yourself out there with a microphone."

Ellen Pompeo is currently starring as Meredith Grey in her 18th season of the ABC hit Grey's Anatomy, on which she's seen the character through one-night stands, love triangles, marriage, loss, and so, so many catastrophic events.

Now, not only is the actress navigating Meredith through a new romance —with Scott Speedman's Nick — but she's also launched a podcast. On Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo, she interviews guests about their passions, and in her first batch of episodes, she's welcomed everyone from her former Grey's co-star Patrick Dempsey to The Beauty in Breaking author Michele Harper to supermodel Cindy Crawford.

Below, EW talks to Pompeo about what's next, both in her podcast world and in the world of Grey's.

Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo on 'Grey's Anatomy'
| Credit: ABC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did the idea for the podcast come from? Had you been wanting to do this for a while?

ELLEN POMPEO: I'd certainly been approached for a very long time about doing them and I always said no. And then, over the pandemic, I started doing this series of Zooms with health-care workers called Healing Healthcare. I do them with a friend of mine who's a nurse out of Philly. I wanted to find a way to be productive during lockdown. I wanted to do something with my platform, and be positive, and put information out, and be helpful in some way. And people really responded to those videos.

So that made me think more about using the medium. The next time I was approached about a podcast, I took it more seriously. People have been so incredibly loyal to me and this show for 18 seasons, and I just want to find a way to give back and use my platform in a very positive way. It's important that young women have a place they can go to hear people have positive conversations. When I was growing up and coming up in this business, there weren't a lot of people who stepped up to be mentors to me, especially women, and I had to figure out everything for myself. Every lesson I've learned, I've had to learn the hard way. And so I thought, "If they can learn the lesson just by me telling stories or me listening to people tell their stories" — that's really the goal of this: to help young women have different ways to think about things.

Were you hesitant to put yourself out there in such a major way?

It's a super-scary thing to do — to be a high-profile person and put yourself out there with a microphone and have people be able to pick up three words you said in a sentence and turn that into something. It's terrifying, especially when you are someone who tries to be super authentic. I really try to be myself all the time. And I'm an actor. We love connection, right? We love emotion and we love connection. I thrive off it. And so it's a little dangerous and scary, but I'm just going to keep pushing forward and try to be as authentic as I can be and use my platform for good.

Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo and Kate Walsh on 'Grey's Anatomy'
| Credit: Karen Neal/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

What is the process for selecting guests?

Of course the people who produce this with me want to have high-profile people, and I'm always saying, "Guys, famous people are great. I love them, but let's give a platform to people who wouldn't ordinarily have this kind of an audience, right?" I have a significant audience on my social media and on Grey's, and we hope to do the same with this. But it's maybe a bigger platform than some other people have. Let's try to give them space. Let's reach out and give them a platform. Let's try to introduce people to new people. That's received, but they're like, "Okay, well we can do that, but you still have to have famous people." And I'm like, "I get it, I get it." So the famous people are famous people I love, but also I'm really trying to have people on who I think have something to say that would help young women if they hear it.

Speaking of Grey's, this week's episode sees Addison [Kate Walsh] and Meredith in the same room for the first time in years. What is their dynamic like now after everything they've been through?

It's like life. If we butted heads back in the day over Derek Shepherd [Patrick Dempsey], he's in another realm now, and we were younger. Everyone's older and more mature, and we have respect for each other as surgeons. And, of course, Kate and I always had a great relationship and always got along. I mean, she is probably one of the most entertaining people you could ever work with. She is so funny. And on this show, we are doing a surgery together, so we interact that way, and it was really fun to be able to do one of those scenes with Kate.

Grey's Anatomy
Scott Speedman and Ellen Pompeo on 'Grey's Anatomy'
| Credit: ABC

Obviously the big twist of this season has been Scott Speedman's return. Were you aware of the fandom's response to his season 14 episode?

No, I really wasn't. Scott and I are friends. We've known each other a long time, and we always got along really great. A few years ago, when we were looking for someone to come on, we had the idea for this story, and I thought of him immediately. I was like, "I think he would be amazing." He was generous enough to come on and we had a great time. And then he was always busy and we wanted him to come back, and it was never the right timing or the story wasn't right.

So this year, I feel really lucky that we were able to get him. We just have great chemistry. We think the same about scenes. Sometimes network TV is very on the nose and a lot of stuff is very obvious. He and I are always trying to elevate every scene, trying to make it as good as we can. We share ideas and collaborate. So I feel pretty lucky to have him as a scene partner this year.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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