Ellen Kathleen Pompeo (born November 10, 1969) is an American actress, known for playing the series protagonist, Meredith Grey, on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. In 2011, she was named the ninth highest paid television actress, earning $7 million. In 2012, she was named the eighth highest paid television actress, earning $9 million. She has extended her contract for 2 more years which would have her involved with the show until the 10th season. Pompeo was born in Everett, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph, a salesman, and Kathleen Pompeo. Of Irish and Italian descent, she was raised Roman Catholic. Pompeo's grandfather was born in Gesualdo, a village in the Province of Avellino, Italy. Her mother died of a painkiller overdose when Ellen was four, and her father remarried soon after. Her father died on September 1, 2012. She has five siblings: three sisters and two brothers. She was nicknamed the pencil, and Stracciatella (an Italian egg drop soup).