'I was hurt and humiliated': Geoffrey Owens says he would happily work at Trader Joe's again despite job-shaming controversy
He said in an interview that he had been 'hurt' and 'humiliated' after the pictures of him working for the department store surfaced online and went viral.
After former 'The Cosby Show' actor Geoffrey Owens was job-shamed for being spotted in a Trader Joe's bagging groceries, he has spoken out and now said that he would return to his old job except with another approach. He recently said: "My calling is as an artist. I don’t want to work at Trader Joe’s only because that’s not my calling, but I am willing to go back to that or any similar job if I have to. And this time, I would do it with a lot less insecurity and awkwardness and discomfort than I did the first time. When I took the job at Trader Joe’s, it was rather uncomfortable and awkward, thinking that people might recognize me and that this kind of thing might conceivably happen. If I ever go back to a regular job, it’s going so be so much better."
Owens told PEOPLE in an interview that he had been "hurt" and "humiliated" after the pictures of him working for the department store surfaced online and went viral. The actor used to play Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show between the years of 1985 and 1992. He told the publication: "The words they used to describe me were so demeaning. It hurt."
In his interview, the actor shared how the Bill Cosby scandal had made him look for work elsewhere. For many years after the show stopped, Owens was receiving the royalties from the show but when 81-year-old Cosby had been accused and convicted of sexual assault later, syndications stopped airing the reruns of the show and the royalties stopped coming to him.
He said: "Yes, it impacted me financially. At the time that the show was pulled, that did make a difference in our income. That was one of the elements that led to my getting to the place where I said to myself, 'I have to do something,' and I was thinking, 'What can I do?' and the answer ended up being Trader Joe’s, which is actually a wonderful situation for me in many ways. But I got to the point — I just had to do something to support myself and my family."
Owens continued: "I didn’t think I was set for life. I didn’t think of it either way. I was single at the time, no family, and The Cosby Show paid me some fairly decent money for a single guy who never even expected to be on TV and was just happy to be doing theater. I always expected that one way or another I would work and make a living. Whether it was teaching, directing, acting, little job here and little job there, then I’d patch it together. I didn’t foresee working at a place like Trader Joe’s, as great as that place is. I didn’t foresee going out of the business for work, but I thought that within the business, I would patch together a modest living, at least enough to get by."
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) 2 September 2018
Since 'The Cosby Show' came to an end, Owens has appeared in multiple shows that include 'Divorce', 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia', 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager', and 'Built to Last'. Unfortunately, the man admits that getting steady roles became few and far in between. He told the publication: "The funny thing is, I never go too long without booking something. The only issue is the things that I book last one day or two days at the most. I’ll book something for one day but then not work three or four months."
Owens' fortunes seem to have changed since the now-viral photo of him was released on social media and has been getting tons of support from fans and fellow colleagues in the industry as well. It was reported that he recently accepted Tyler Perry's offer to appear on the hit OWN drama, 'The Haves and the Have Nots'. He has also been reportedly cast in a recurring 10-episode role on season six of the show.
The actor is also set to appear on one episode of 'NCIS: New Orleans' season five which is set to air sometime in late October this year. Singer Nicki Minaj also pledged and delivered on giving Owens $25,000 to help him out and he gave it to charity. The money had been donated to the Actor's Fund in memory of the late Earle Hyman, the actor who played Cosby's father on The Cosby Show. The fund was set up to help struggling actors. So while Owens is set now, his days at Trader Joe's will definitely serve to keep him grounded.