There is a lesson to be learned after former ‘Cosby Show’ star Geoffrey Owens was shamed on social media and on Fox News for bagging groceries at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey last week.
A lesbian couple took photos of the 57-year-old actor bagging groceries, and they uploaded the photos to social media.
“I was just in Trader Joe’s and I said to my wife, I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s the guy from The Cosby Show’,” Karma Lawrence told the Daily Mail UK.
“I used to watch The Cosby Show all the time; it was my favorite show. It was definitely him,” she added. “I would have thought after The Cosby Show he would maybe be doing something different. It was a shock to see him working there and looking the way he did. It made me feel really bad. I was like, ‘Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier.’ Other fans would be surprised for sure as well.”
In an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Owens opened up about the support he’s received. “I really want to thank everyone out there… for the amazing support and positivity they showed me.”
Owens said he wasn’t ashamed of working at Trader Joe’s for 15 months, but he wanted to keep his job a secret because he didn’t want Hollywood to think he was done with acting.
Many believed Owens was an out-of-work actor, but he has worked in television and movies over the last 30 years. Owens has found steady work on TV shows such as “The Affair”, “Divorce” and “Elementary”.
Owens said he’s received “hints” of acting job offers. He added that he and his wife were “devastated” and “hurt” after the photos went viral.
‘You gotta do what you gotta do,” he said. “I wanted a job that I could have some flexibility to try and stay in the business,” he added.
The photo and her caption sparked debate on social media and offline over job-shaming. Many wondered why Lawrence violated Owens’ privacy or demeaned him for bagging groceries.
Owens, who played Cosby’s milquetoast son-in-law Elvin Tibideaux, told Robin Roberts he would feel uncomfortable if he received acting jobs as a result of the photos. “I want to get a [acting] job because I’m the right person for that job,” he said.
Owens said he feels like more of a celebrity now than he ever was. He acknowledged that all the attention will soon fade, but he said he hopes people will not demean others based on what they do for a living.
“There’s Dignity in Working,” he said. “No one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine.”
Celebrities such as Patricia Heaton, Donnie Wahlberg and Terry Crews weighed in to show their support for Owens.
“I don’t know #GeoffreyOwens,” Wahlberg said on Twitter.com. “I know this — Almost every successful actor, singer, athlete or celebrity, is one lucky (unlucky) break away from bagging groceries themselves. Few would admit it. Fewer humble enough to do it.”
“Until you’ve walked in the shoes or felt the pain of another human being – don’t judge them, dismiss them or presume to know their struggle,” he continued.
American football-star-turned actor Terry Crews tweeted, “I swept floors AFTER the @NFL. If need be, I’d do it again. Good honest work is nothing to be ashamed of.”