Things used to be pretty sweet for actor Geoffrey Owens until they became pretty “not-so-sweet-“ and low-key, and then the media storm began. Owens was the victim of “job-shaming” when photos of the actor went viral on social media after he was seen working as a cashier at Trader Joe’s. The actor, however, could very well be on his way to singing his “redemption song”.
Fifty-nine-year-old Geoffrey Owens got his major breakthrough in what would happen to be one of his first works back in 1985 when he was cast as Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show. Owens stayed on as a series regular until the show’s end in 1992. Following the role of Elvin, he appeared in a few other productions. However, 15 months prior to photos being released of his new gig in 2018, he began working at Trader Joe’s to make ends meet.
A New Jersey woman named Karma Lawrence snapped pictures of the actor hard at work once she recognized him behind the cash register. She then submitted her photos to celebrity websites and soon after, the Daily Mail picked them up and it quickly went viral. While some on social media began to crack jokes at the actor’s expense, Owens began to get a massive outpouring of support on social media.
This didn’t stop Owens from feeling hurt and embarrassed by what was meant to shame him. In an interview with Good Morning America, the actor shared, “I was really devastated, but the period of devastation was so short.” Rocking his Trader Joe’s name tag proudly, he admitted to host Robin Roberts that the devastation didn’t last for a long period. “My wife and I started to read these responses from literally all over the world. Fortunately, the shame part didn’t last very long,” he said.
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 let GMA know that the store allowed him the flexibility to pursue auditions and gigs. According to the actor he was recognized everyday while at work, but people were “cool” about it.
The tables have turned, however, as the support continued to pour in for him. Tyler Perry took to Twitter to offer Owens a role in his OWN drama “The Haves And The Have Nots”. Perry tweeted, “I’m about to start shootings OWN’s number one drama next week! Come join us!!! I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs. The measure of a true artist.”
#GeoffreyOwens I’m about to start shootings OWN’s number one drama next week! Come join us!!! I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs. The measure of a true artist.— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) September 4, 2018
Owens continued on Good Morning America, “There’s no job that is better than another. They might pay better, have better benefits, but actually, it’s not better.” That’s not all that was offered to the actor, as he continued to “bag” more gigs afterward. Owens also was confirmed to play Commander Adams in a guest-starring role on the military drama “NCIS: New Orleans.”
Owens also starred in the psychological thriller film Impossible Monsters in 2020. The actor’s latest gig, an IGTV series called Shift Matters, highlights the everyday working person who usually gets overshadowed or work is considered “insignificant”.
“Not only are we acknowledging that all work matters, but we’re also realizing that a lot of the people who do the jobs that — let’s face it — we didn’t think very much of before are actually heroes,” the actor says in the show’s mini-trailer. Owens can also be seen in Power Book II: Ghost.