Geoffrey Owens is doing just fine, thank you very much. Now. This past weekend, however, was quite the roller coaster for the former Cosby Show actor. In case you missed it, a New Jersey woman thought she would get her kicks by sneaking a photo of Owens bagging groceries, then sharing it with the Daily Mail and Fox News. Because apparently, since he played Elvin Tibideaux, husband of eldest Huxtable daughter Sondra, from 1985 to 1992, anything else is inferior.
Owens, who does, indeed, still act (in fact, you may have seen his recent appearances on Divorce, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), appeared on Good Morning America Tuesday morning and opened up about all the attention he’s received since the photo of him went viral.
FULL INTERVIEW: @GMA EXCLUSIVE — “There’s no job better than another…every job is worthwhile…” Actor Geoffrey Owens speaks out, responding to job shaming and backlash after a photo of him working at a grocery store was posted online: https://t.co/0wZJnpowI9 pic.twitter.com/aNiG5fV2yf
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 4, 2018
Proudly wearing his Trader Joe’s name tag, he told GMA‘s Robin Roberts that he was initially “really devastated” by all the shaming. That is, until celebrities and fans alike jumped to his defence on social media and jumped down the job-shamers’ virtual throats.
“The period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that, the responses, my wife and I started to read [them] … and fortunately the shame part didn’t last very long,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
He continued: “It’s really overwhelming, in a good way. I kind of feel like that character in that Woody Allen movie that wakes up one morning and he’s a celebrity all of a sudden … it came out of nowhere. I really want to thank everybody out there … for the incredible support, the amazing support and positivity that they’ve shown for me. It’s quite astounding.”
I had been a working actor for years. Jobs stopped, as they do. I worked in retail. At a flower shop. I passed out flyers. It’s about the work. Work gives you pride and purpose. Your visibility as an actor never goes away. But the money sure does. #geoffreyowens pic.twitter.com/BBzZaBrGBx
— Pamela Adlon (@pamelaadlon) September 2, 2018
— terrycrews (@terrycrews) September 2, 2018
So Fox News shames a man for working at Trader Joe’s because he was once on a hit TV show? Demonizing hard work while abetting grifters enriching themselves on tax dollars is a potent stew of hypocrisy and irony. Maybe we’re unknowing extras in a revival of the Twilight Zone.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) September 3, 2018
🙋🏼♀️Got a job as a hostess when I left General Hospital. Many didn’t understand why I’d leave #GH without another acting gig waiting for me. (If only we could all be so lucky). This is what dedication to your artistic happiness actually looks like. #actorswithdayjobs https://t.co/t1nGRFf9Zz
— julie berman (@itsjulieberman) September 3, 2018
I’ll also add that GeoffreyOwens is one of the VERY few people on the planet who has acted on a hit TV show. That is something I’m certain that Karma Lawrence has never, and will never do. #Respect
— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) September 1, 2018
Owens worked at Trader Joe’s for 15 months, saying he first took the job because he wanted “flexibility” in order to stay in the entertainment business (where he been acting, teaching and directing for over 30 years). Owens revealed he has since quit his job at the grocery store.
“People recognized me every day and they were very, very cool about it.” Until that one annoying person who shared it with two outlets that would of course turn it into a job-shaming extravaganza. And that’s the real shame.
“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 — 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.”
He added: “No one should feel sorry for me. 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!” Damn right.
And while Owens said there’s been “all kinds of interest” over the last few days, he admitted he’d rather get gigs on his own merit.
“I wouldn’t mind getting auditions but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone giving me a job because this happened,” he said. “I want to get a job because I’m the right person for that job.”
How great is Geoffrey?? Here’s hoping he’s able to get his job at Trader Joe’s back so he can balance it with what he loves doing. Because being able to do something you’re passionate about? That’s priceless. And, hey, if the benefits are good and the company is world-class, all the better.
What’s funny is working at a grocery store is objectively better than acting (union, reliable pay, reliable hours, health insurance, more opportunities as a woman or POC over 25, opportunity for advancement)
— (((Chandra Prater))) (@chandraprater) September 1, 2018
The idea that people should be embarrassed for any work is wild. But this one especially upsets me. TJs is great and you should all shop there instead of Amazon-owned Whole Foods because the way they treat employees is worlds apart
— Katy Kelleher (@KatyKelleher) September 1, 2018
Trader Joe’s offers:
– Living wages with potential 7-10% raises annually
– Health, dental and vision coverage
– Paid time off
– Good corporate culture
– In-store discount
How dare you shame ANYONE for working & making a living, actor or no. https://t.co/8DA5nl7eNf
— 🤖.ashley.🎙 (@AshleyEsqueda) September 1, 2018
— Soraya Roberts (@SorayaRoberts) September 1, 2018
When I look at this picture of Geoffrey Owens, the only things that come to my mind are courage, humility and dedication. Very few artists, especially actors, can fully support themselves in their craft. Taking honest, hard work to offset those dry periods is honorable. pic.twitter.com/tql80NegJt
— Aharon Rabinowitz (@ABAOProductions) September 2, 2018
“Geoffrey Owens still acts occasionally, works at Trader Joe’s, and ministers to others in need, setting a good example for people everywhere. What a great guy.” That’s what @FoxNews should have said. https://t.co/Q14ZkpotYQ
— Dayna Steele for US Congress TX36 (@daynasteele) September 1, 2018
For those of you shaming Geoffrey Owens, go look at his IMDB page. He works as an actor. But actors get paid crap these days unless they are a lead on a network show. Despite the many channels and platforms these days, the pay has gone down an incredible amount for all of us.
— Brian Scolaro (@BRIAN_SCOLARO) September 1, 2018
Geoffrey Owens is a great actor who I saw play Puck in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Joseph Papp theater. He killed it. If you see him working anywhere get his autograph and wish him well.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) September 1, 2018
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) September 1, 2018