Ellen Kathleen Pompeo (born November 10, 1969) is an American actress, known for playing the title role of Meredith Grey on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy.
Ellen Kathleen Pompeo was born in Everett, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph, a salesman, and Kathleen Pompeo. Pompeo is of Irish and Italian descent and was raised Roman Catholic. Her grandfather was born in Gesualdo, a village in the Province of Avellino, Italy. Her mother died when Ellen was four years old due to a painkiller overdose, and her father remarried soon after her mother's death. She has five older siblings, three sisters and two brothers. She was nicknamed the pencil and Stracciatella (which is a cream flavoured ice cream with solid dark chocolate inside).
For more than two years, she served cocktails in Miami, where she met fashion photographer Andrew Rosenthal, with whom she was romantically linked for some time. In 1996, she was bartending at the SoHo Bar & Grill in New York City's Upper West Side when an agent approached her to appear in commercials. Subsequently, she appeared in commercials for Citibank and L'Oréal. She began her career with minor roles on television shows like Strangers with Candy, Friends and Law & Order and a handful of others.