Published 3:14 p.m. UTC Sep 4, 2018
Actor Geoffrey Owens, who once played Bill Cosby's son-in-law Elvin on "The Cosby Show," says he is proud to work at Trader Joe's and is unfazed by what he feels is job-shaming.
Wearing his red store badge and smiling, the 57-year-old actor whom outlets spotted working at the supermarket in Clifton, New Jersey, appeared on Tuesday's "Good Morning America." During a conversation with "GMA" anchor Robin Roberts, he reflected on the outpouring of support he's received from celebrities like Terry Crews, Blair Underwood and Pamela Adlon.
"It's really overwhelming in a good way," Owens shared with Roberts. "I really want to thank everybody out there: family, friends, Hollywood community and the general public for the incredible support, the amazing support and positivity that they’ve shown for me. It’s quite astounding, it's very encouraging."
Owens said he felt the reports about his workplace were in fact attempts at job-shaming.
"I was really devastated, but the period of devastation was so short, because so shortly after that, the responses – my wife and I started to read these responses from literally all over the world of support and so, fortunately, the shame part didn’t last very long," he said.
Owens explained he decided to work at Trader Joe's, where he's been employed for about 15 months, after being unable to make ends meet.
“I got to a point where I’d been teaching, acting, directing for 30+ years, but it got to a point where it just didn’t add up enough and you gotta do what you got to do," he shared, adding the job offered "flexibility," so he could "try to stay in the business."
"I didn’t advertise that I was at Trader Joe’s," he added, "not that I was ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want the entertainment community to kind of decide, 'Well, he's doing that, he’s not pursuing acting anymore.' I felt like I had to be careful about that."
Owens said his return to the limelight hasn't resulted in any jobs offers, but also shared getting work from his recent publicity wouldn't feel right.
"I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting acting jobs from this event," he said. "I wouldn't mind getting auditions, I don't mind if people call me in to try out for things, due to what's happened, but I actually wouldn't feel comfortable (with) someone giving me a job because this happened. I want to get a job because I'm the right person for that job."
Before his interview concluded, Owens discussed what he found to be a silver lining in the unexpected spectacle.
"This business of my being this 'Cosby' guy who got shamed for working at Trader Joe's, that’s going to pass... but I hope what doesn’t pass is this idea... this rethinking about what it means to work, the honor of the working person and the dignity of work," he said. "And, 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 a reevaluation of the idea that some jobs are better than others because that’s actually not true.
"There is no job that's better than another job," he continued. "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, and if we have a kind of a rethinking about that because of what’s happened to me, that would be great, but no one should feel sorry for me, either from a positive or a negative perspective. I’ve had a great life, I've had a great career, and I’ve had a career that most actors would die for."
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