Geoffrey Owens, a former star on the hit 1990s sitcom, “The Cosby Show,” who gained a lot of attention after it was discovered he has been working at Trader Joe’s, is speaking out about being shamed for his job and the “dignity” of work.
Owens first gained attention after a shopper spotted the actor working at the grocery store and told The Daily Mail about the discovery. Other outlets quickly picked up on the news.
'Cosby Show' actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe's https://t.co/bhkxWYa9gq
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 31, 2018
Several of Owens’ fellow actors came to his defense:
— terrycrews (@terrycrews) September 2, 2018
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
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) September 1, 2018
Then on Tuesday, during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Owens opened up about his experience.
“I’ve been teaching, acting, directing, for 30 plus years but got to a point where it just didn’t add up enough,” he said, wearing his Trader Joe’s name tag. “You gotta do what you gotta do. I wanted a job where I could have some flexibility to stay in the business.”
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
Owens said he was initially “devastated” he gained so much attention over his job at Trader Joe’s, which he’s had for 15 months, and said the public reaction”hurt” initially, but the flood of positive responses quickly helped. Now, he’s thankful for the opportunity. He told host Robin Roberts he hopes the conversation reminds people of the “honor of the working person” and the “dignity of work.”
“There’s no job that’s better than another job,” he said. “It might pay better, it might have better benefits, look better on a resume or on paper, but actually it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”
The former “Cosby Show” star said the unexpected attention might result in new acting opportunities, though he made clear he has no interest in just getting gigs because of his renewed celebrity status.
He would rather get the job on merit.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting acting jobs from this [attention],” Owens explained. “I wouldn’t mind auditions… I want to get a job because I’m in the right person for it.”
Regardless of where he ends up — whether he stays at Trader Joe’s or finds new opportunities in Hollywood — Owens said he doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him or pity him because he’s “had a great life” and “a great career.”
“I’ve had a career most actors would die for, so no one has to feel sorry for me,” he said. “I’m doing fine.”