By now it’s probably no news that The Cosby Show’s Geoffrey Owens works at Trader Joe’s to make some extra cash. The star was met with some mocking and scrutiny after the Daily Mail and Fox News published photos of him bagging groceries at a N.J. Trader Joe’s last week.
Those two news sites (?) were met with swift backlash, accused of job shaming. But now Owens is speaking out for himself, just to remind everyone that a job is a job and bills still need to get paid.
“I hope that this period that we’re in now, where we have a heightened sensitivity about that, and a re-evaluation of what it means to work and the idea that some jobs are better than others — that’s actually not true,” he said in a sit down with Good Morning America. “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.”
“No one should feel sorry for me,” he added. “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!”
That being said, the actor hopes that what happened to him will help to reshape “what it means to work, the honor of the working person, [and] the dignity of work.”
Owens sat down with host Robin Roberts proudly wearing his Yale hat, a nod to his alma mater where he has also taught, and his Trader Joe’s name pin and went in a little bit about how he started working at Trader Joe’s.
“I’ve been teaching, acting, directing for 30-plus years, but it got to a point where it just didn’t add up enough,” he said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“I didn’t advertise that I was at Trader Joe’s, not that I was ashamed of it but because I didn’t want the entertainment community deciding, ‘Well, he’s doing that, he’s not pursuing acting anymore.’ I felt like I had to be careful about that,” he added.
When the photos leaked, he acknowledges that he was “devastated” but soon was heartened by the outpouring of support.
“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.”
And Owens did receive an outpouring of support from his acting peers, who often have to pick up other jobs to help with gaps between acting.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union representing actors also stood up for Owens asking for other actors with day jobs to share their experiences.
“It’s really overwhelming, in a good way,” Owens said of the support. “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.”
Owens, who had been working for Trader Joe’s for the past 15 months due to the flexibility it gave him to continue pursuing his acting, ended up having to quit over the attention.
That being said he has acknowledged that same attention has now sparked “all kinds of interest” in the past few days. However, ever humble and ever hard working (clearly), the 57-year-old said he “wouldn’t feel comfortable getting acting jobs” from the recent events.
“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.”
Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018; 2:11 p.m. EDT: Even though Geoffrey Owens said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable receiving acting job offers due to his sudden news spike after he was photographed while working at Trader Joes, game recognizes game, hustle recognizes hustle, and good bosses naturally want good workers.
Tyler Perry, who has been vocal about his own hardships before his success tweeted out to Owens saying he was about to start shooting for a drama on OWN (seemingly referring to The Haves and The Have Nots) and asking him to come and join the team.