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10/23/2018 10:37 am ET

Ellen Pompeo Cites Inclusivity Of 'Grey's Anatomy' As A Reason She Keeps Going

The actress got emotional on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" as she discussed the medical drama's impact.

For “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, being part of ABC’s long-running medical drama is both a personal and professional milestone. 

The actress teared up during her appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday as she recalled the impact many fans say “Grey’s Anatomy” has had on their lives since the show debuted in 2005. 

One such encounter took place on the set of the show, now in its 15th season, during the filming of an episode Pompeo happened to be directing. 

“A teenager was in the show and he was gay, and he played a gay character on my show,” recalled the star, who plays Dr. Meredith Grey. “After we had filmed the whole entire episode, he said to me, ‘My whole life, I’ve watched this show with my parents, and I’ve sort of used the show as a way to tell my parents that I was gay, and to show my parents that it’s OK, that I’m not different, there’s nothing really wrong with me.’”

Noting that the show had helped the actor’s parents “understand what having a gay son meant,” Pompeo added, “I gotta keep doing it, man! We’re touching lives and making a difference.”

Last weekend, Pompeo was honored with a GLSEN Respect Award from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network in recognition of her efforts on behalf of gender parity in Hollywood. 

Citing research that showed a recent surge in violence against LGBTQ youth, the actress encouraged young viewers to get involved with their gay-straight alliance groups in schools. 

“If you’re not old enough to vote, that is something that you can do that will make a real difference and really help kids,” she said. 

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