Former “Cosby Show” actor Geoffrey Owens spoke out for the first time on Tuesday since the story of his employment at Trader Joe’s went viral.
Owens, who played the character Elvin Tibideaux on the 1980s sitcom, became an object of job shaming late last month after several media outlets, including Fox News, ran a shopper’s photos of an account of him working a checkout line at a New Jersey location of the grocery chain. The actor said he initially was “really devastated” by the story. However, several celebrities and many fans leaped to the actor’s defense on social media and fired back at people who belittled him for making an honest living.
The 57-year-old proudly rocked his Trader Joe’s name tag along with his Yale hat Tuesday as he told “Good Morning America,” “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. … It’s amazing.”
He continued, “It’s really overwhelming, in a good way. … 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.”
A shopper who recognized Owens originally snapped a picture of him and posted it on Twitter. The massive amount of publicity recently caused the actor to quit the supermarket after working there for 15 months.
For the past 30-plus years Owens has taught at Yale, worked at Trader Joe’s, directed movies and continued acting. He’s starred in “Divorce,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” and “Built to Last.”
Owens said he’s open to auditions, but doesn’t want someone giving him “a job because this happened.” He added, “I want to get a job because I’m the right person for that job.”
The 57-year-old said he hoped his experience was a wake-up call to others that “there’s no job better than another. … Every job is worthwhile” and to know the “the honor of the working person.”
“I hope that this period that we’re in now, where we have a heightened sensitivity about that, and a reevaluation of what it means to work and the idea that some jobs are better than others — that’s actually not true,” said Owens.
The actor starred on the “Cosby Show” from 1985 to 1992. His character Elvin was the husband of Sondra Huxtable.
Owens ended on the note of saying that he’s had a “great career” and that people shouldn’t pity or feel sorry for him.
“I’ve had a great life. … I’ve had a career that most actors would die for. So no one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine!”