He played Elvin on the "Cosby" show, but between acting gigs, has also been working at Trader Joe's. This was no big deal until someone snapped some photos of him and the media went into a frenzy. But Geoffrey Owens is proud of the work he does, saying "every job is worthwhile and valuable."
I couldn't agree more.
Those photos were picked up by the Daily Mail, and then Fox News (on this side of the pond). While neither story actually said "look what his life has come to," a lot of people read between the lines. The Daily Mail, for instance, pointed out that the average person at Trader Joe's makes $11/hour. Left unsaid is the far greater sums of money that successful Hollywood actors make.
Fortunately, the internet came to Geoffrey Owens' rescue. They called it 'job-shaming,' and many people who've had to work other jobs to make ends meet spoke out. Patricia Heaton, who's best known for her work on Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle, wondered how this was even a news story. Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews said that "Good honest work is nothing to be ashamed of."
Geoffrey Owens says he had to quit his job because of all the publicity, although Trader Joe's says he's welcome to come back. It's a job he had to take out of necessity, according to ABC News, but he's continued to do plenty of acting work. He recently came on Good Morning America wearing his Trader Joe's name tag, and then he said something about the dignity of work that we all need to remember: "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 résumé and a paper. But actually, it's not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable... No one should feel sorry for me. ...I'm doing fine."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
In the entertainment industry, most actors work sporadically most of the time. Regular work on a series isn't exactly assured. And there are a great number of people in Hollywood and elsewhere who find the need to supplement their income. Why should any person or any media outlet look down on them for doing an honest day's work for an honest day's pay?
On a side note: Let me preface this by saying I don't know; but I wonder if Geoffrey Owens' "necessity" was brought on by the fact that the Cosby show is a bit hard to find on TV anymore. Bill Cosby's crimes cost the entire cast a lot of money, in lost residuals from syndication rights to the show. We don't know if Geoffrey Owens contract also included residuals, and we don't know if this is the reason for Owens' other job. He didn't say so... and doesn't seem like the kind of man who would.
In any event, the added fame seems to have helped. Tyler Perry has reached out to offer him a job. Best of luck to someone who seems like a really good human being.