Ellen Pompeo chose "money" over "creative acting roles".
The Grey's Anatomy star — who has played Meredith Grey for the past 15 years — admitted her decision to stay on the medical drama was motivated by financial security, as she looked to provide for her family.
Speaking on Spotify's Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast, she said: "For me, personally, a healthy home life was more important than career. I didn't grow up with a particularly happy childhood.
"So the idea that I have this great husband and these three beautiful children [and] a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart.
"And so I made a decision to make money, and not chase creative acting roles. I don't like chasing anything ever, and acting to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing.
"You've got to chase roles, you've got to beg for roles, you've got to convince people ... and although I produce and it's the same kind of thing, I think I still do it from a place of, I'm never that thirsty because I'm financially set."
The 51-year-old star — who has kids Stella, 10, Sienna, five, and three-year-old Eli with husband Chris Ivery — insisted she has no desire to "run away" from Grey's Anatomy after making her name on the programme.
Acknowledging that some actors will try to escape their most famous roles, she explained: "I understand that completely, but at my age and where my life is, I just try to lean into it. I'm not trying to run away from anything. It is who I am.
"I made my choices and I'm cool with it. And I actually have a real passion, which is to sort of start to talk about and break down systemic racism in the healthcare industry.
"This is something that has plagued us forever. And I think the show has given me a real window into that."