Traditional Values

‘Job-Shamed’ Actor Geoffrey Owens Focuses on ‘the Honor, the Dignity’ of Work

Every position 'is worthwhile and valuable,' said thespian — now Tyler Perry makes intriguing offer

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Actor Geoffrey Owens (pictured above right), who once held celebrity status playing Cliff Huxtable’s son-in-law Elvin Tibideaux on “The Cosby Show,” had a refreshingly realistic and humble approach to being “job-shamed” recently. This happened after a shopper took his photo as he was working as a cashier at Trader Joe’s — and the Britain’s Daily Mail promptly published it.

The Daily Mail story, which quickly took off on social media, showed an unflattering photo of a now 57-year-old Owens, who reportedly was working at a Trader Joe’s location in New Jersey.

The photo was broadly distributed, but a heartwarming result came out of the initially embarrassing moment for Owens.

Outlets that posted the embarrassing image received broad criticism for the public shaming, and people from around the world — as well as many from the acting community — came to his defense online.

As Owens told “Good Morning America” on Tuesday morning with a grin, “I’m more a celebrity now than I’ve ever been.”

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Talking with host Robin Roberts, “Owens displayed the charm and telegenic ease that led to his successful acting career,” noted Mediaite, and showed himself to be a modest, self-aware individual who believes in the dignity of work — any work that pays the bills.

Proudly wearing his Trader Joe’s badge for his interview, Owens admitted the shame he felt when his image was shared was intense — but fortunately, that quickly turned to gratitude over the support he’s received.

“I was really devastated,” he said.

He added that “the period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that, the responses, my wife and I started to read these responses from like literally all over the world of support and so, fortunately, the shame part didn’t last very long.”

When asked if he has received any acting opportunities from the unique situation, Owens said he didn’t want any favors. If he got more auditions from this attention that would be welcome, he said, but he didn’t want any acting gigs to fall in his lap just because of his new Trader Joe fame.

Then came this offer from actor, director and producer Tyler Perry (shown above left): “#GeoffreyOwens I’m about to start shooting OWN’s [Oprah Winfrey Network] 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.”

Perry’s tweet has received over 25,000 likes.

“I do want to say this … this business of my being this Cosby guy who got shamed for working at Trader Joe’s, that’s going to pass,” Owens told Roberts. “I hope what doesn’t pass is this … rethinking [about] what it means to work — the honor of the working person and the dignity of work.”

Related: Job Advice Every Young Person Needs (and Doesn’t Want)

“And I hope,” he continued, “that this period that we’re in now where we have a heightened sensitivity about that, 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. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume … but actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”

Watch Owens talk to Robin Roberts in the video below.

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