Geoffrey Owens (bottom left), pictured with Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad and Tempesst Bledsoe. Picture: NBC
Geoffrey Owens (bottom left), pictured with Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad and Tempesst Bledsoe. Picture: NBC

Cosby Show star hits back at ‘job-shamers’

ACTOR Geoffrey Owens, who was a former regular on The Cosby Show, says he's thankful for the support he has received since photos of him working a regular job at a supermarket were widely circulated.

Speaking on Good Morning America and wearing his "Geoffrey" supermarket name tag, Owens said that he was "devastated" when the photos were made public, because he felt people were trying to job shame him.

But the actor stressed that "every job is worthwhile and valuable."

Actor Geoffrey Owens said he was “not ashamed” at having to work in a supermarket between acting gigs. Picture: Good Morning America
Actor Geoffrey Owens said he was “not ashamed” at having to work in a supermarket between acting gigs. Picture: Good Morning America

Owens also revealed that he had been working at the New Jersey Trader Joe's supermarket for 15 months "out of necessity" in between acting gigs and teaching, but that he has now quit because of the unwanted attention he has received.

"When I first saw the pictures ... I was really devastated, but the period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that there were responses … of support, so fortunately, the shame part didn't last very long.

"It hurt, but it's amazing," Owens told Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, adding that he had not had an on-screen job which lasted more than 10 weeks in the 26 years since The Cosby Show ended.

"I got to a point where I'd been teaching acting and directing for 30-plus years but it just didn't add up enough. You've got to do what you've got to do.

"I wanted a job that I could I have some flexibility and try to stay in the acting business.

"I didn't advertise it, not because I was ashamed of it, but because I didn't want the acting community to think that I wasn't pursuing acting anymore," he said.

Owens said he was shocked by the sudden interest in his working life.

 

Geoffrey Owens has been a working actor for more than 30 years. Picture: Getty Images
Geoffrey Owens has been a working actor for more than 30 years. Picture: Getty Images

 

The actor is best known for his role as Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show. Picture: NBC
The actor is best known for his role as Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show. Picture: NBC

"It was really overwhelming. It came out of nowhere. I feel like I'm more of a celebrity now than I ever have been. I'm more of a celebrity now than when I actually was a celebrity!" he said.

Owens said he hoped his story shifted attitudes about work and the fact that no one job is better than another.

"This business of me being the Cosby guy who got shamed for working at Trader Joe's, that's going to pass. I hope what doesn't pass is this idea that people are now thinking about - what it means to work.

"The honour of the working person and the dignity of work. [There's a] reevaluation [of the idea] that some jobs are better than others. It's not true.

Geoffrey Owens as Elvin and his on-screen wife, Sondra, played by Sabrina LeBeauf. Picture: NBC
Geoffrey Owens as Elvin and his on-screen wife, Sondra, played by Sabrina LeBeauf. Picture: NBC

"There is no job that's better than another. It may pay better, it may have better benefits, it may look better on paper. But it's not better. Every job is worthwhile."

Owens said he had received "hints" of acting work since the story broke but that he would feel uncomfortable taking any jobs because of "this event".

"I wouldn't feel comfortable, someone giving me a job, because this happened. I want to get a job because I am the right person for the job," he said.

 

Owens played Elvin Tibideaux, the husband of Sondra Huxtable, the eldest daughter of Bill Cosby's character on the iconic TV show between 1985 and 1992.

After the story broke, several actors and sports stars have shard their own stories of having to do "regular" jobs between gigs.

Actor Terry Crews who tweeted in support of Owens: "I swept floors after the NFL. If need be, I'd do it again.

"Good honest work is nothing to be ashamed of."

 

 

"I don't know #GeoffreyOwens but I know this - almost every successful actor, singer, athlete, or celebrity is one lucky (unlucky) break away from bagging groceries themselves," tweeted New Kids on the Block member and actor Donnie Wahlberg.

"Few would admit it. Fewer humble enough to do it," he added.

The Cosby Show is one of the most popular American sitcoms of all time. Picture: Supplied
The Cosby Show is one of the most popular American sitcoms of all time. Picture: Supplied

Actor Anthony Atamanuik, best known for his Donald Trump impersonation, has washed dishes, worked in a law office, and cleaned a video store.

"Work is work, always be prepared to do it," he tweeted.

"Geoffrey Owens is a testimony to the dignity of work and to frame it as anything else is ignorant."


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