Over the weekend, former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens, who played Sondra’s husband Elvin Tibideaux on the long-running series, was spotted working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey by customers who snapped his photo without permission. The photos later made their way to the Daily Mail and then Fox News, subsequently going viral on Twitter as many made light of the fact that Owens was now working in retail.
But then something wonderful happened. The acting community rallied around Owens to remind people that acting is not always steady work, and sometimes actors need to take less-than-glamorous jobs to get by. Indeed, Owens is in fact still very much a working actor, making recent television appearances on series such as HBO’s Divorce, Blue Bloods, Lucifer, Elementary, and so on.
On Tuesday, Owens stopped by Good Morning America to speak out about the “devastation” he initially experienced at having been shamed as a Trader Joe’s employee, but how things quickly turned around and he became overwhelmed at the support everyone has shown him.
“The period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that, the responses, my wife and I started to read these responses from literally all over the world of support,” he told host Robin Roberts while proudly showing off his name badge. “And fortunately the shame part didn’t last very long. It hurt, but then … it’s amazing.”
Owens later admitted that he had worked at Trader Joe’s for 15 months before this incident occurred and that people had recognized him every day, and up until that point had been cool about it. He has since had to step down from the position due to the media attention.
Despite everything that happened, Owens is taking it in stride. He said that he knows that “this business of my being the Cosby guy who got shamed for working at Trader Joe’s” will eventually pass, but he hopes that it will open people’s minds as to what it means to work.
“I hope that this period that we’re in now, where we have a heightened sensitivity about that, and a reevaluation of what it means to work and the idea that some jobs are better than others, because that’s actually not true. There is no job that’s better than another job. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume and on paper. But actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable, and if we have a kind of a rethinking about that because of what happened to me, that would be great.”
“No one should feel sorry for me from either a positive or negative perspective,” he added at the end of the segment. “I’ve had a great life. I’ve had a great career. I’ve had a career that most actors would die for. So no one has to feel sorry for me, I’m doing fine!”
Owens came off like such an incredible class act during the interview, others took to Twitter to echo his sentiments.
Owens also stated that he didn’t hope the experience will earn him any pity work and that he hoped to continue to earn acting jobs on his own merit, but it seems he’s made it more than clear that he’s deserving.