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Actor Ellen Pompeo appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week and got emotional while discussing the impact of her beloved medical drama Grey’s Anatomy (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/MT on CTV). After spending 15 seasons as the brilliant, dark, and twisty surgeon Dr. Meredith Grey, Pompeo says that the incredible impact of the show on fans is what keeps her motivated to continuing starring on the Emmy-winning series.

Pompeo, who is contracted through to a 16th season, didn’t say whether she would continue with the series beyond her legal obligations, but she did give fans some hope for the future of the show.  “These numbers, there’s no end in sight with streaming and the show is so popular,” said Pompeo.

The actor revealed just how important Grey’s Anatomy is to fans around the world. “Everywhere I go, whether it’s Italy, whether it’s France, London, whether it’s Kansas, the people that come up to me with tears in their eyes and tell me how meaningful the show is to them,” said Pompeo.

Speaking about one fan in particular, Pompeo opened up about her experience directing Season 14’s episode ‘Old Scars, Future Hearts.’ “A teenager was in the show and he was gay and he played a gay character on my show,” said Pompeo.

“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 okay, that I’m not different, that there’s nothing wrong with me. Grey’s really helped my parents understand what having a gay son meant and it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. For my parents now see me as an actor getting a part on this show has just been everything.’”

CTV

Holding back tears during the emotional story, Pompeo–a supporter of a wide variety of LGBT causes– said that it’s experiences like that which inspire her to continue acting on Grey’s. “I gotta keep doing it, man, because we’re touching lives and making a difference.” We’re pretty sure she means she’s gotta keep doing it forever, so we’re a little teary ourselves.

Watch Grey’s Anatomy every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/MT on CTV.