After photos of actor Geoffrey Owens working as a Trader Joe’s cashier circulated online last week, he appeared Tuesday on “Good Morning America” to tell everyone that he is doing just fine.
“There is no job that is better than another job,” Owens said. “It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a résumé and on paper. But, actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”
Owens, best known for playing the Huxtables’ son-in-law Elvin Tibideaux on “The Cosby Show,” sat across from host Robin Roberts while wearing a Yale baseball cap — a nod to his alma mater — and his Trader Joe’s name tag. The tag also appeared in photos the Daily Mail published on Thursday, seemingly with the intent of shaming the actor for working at the grocery store in New Jersey: “From learning lines to serving the long line!” the headline exclaimed.
Fox News published the photos the next day, after which a number of figures in the news and entertainment industries came to Owens’s defense. Dan Rather criticized the network, tweeting that “demonizing hard work while abetting grifters enriching themselves on tax dollars is a potent stew of hypocrisy and irony.” Terry Crews recalled sweeping floors after he retired from the NFL. Justine Bateman referred to the people photographing and judging Owens as “trash,” adding that he is one of the “VERY few people on the planet who has acted on a hit TV show.”
Speaking to Roberts, Owens said he was “really devastated” by how he was initially portrayed. But that feeling faded quickly, he added, as the worldwide outpouring of support was almost immediate.
“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,” he said, later adding: “I’m more of a celebrity now than when I actually was a celebrity, if that makes sense.”
Owens played Elvin on “The Cosby Show” for seven years and has since appeared on “That’s So Raven,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” among other shows. He worked at Trader Joe’s for 15 months before quitting because of the recent influx of attention, he told Roberts, as the money he made from teaching, acting and directing for more than 30 years wasn’t enough to make ends meet. He wanted a job with enough flexibility to allow him to continue working in the entertainment business, as well.
The backlash to the Daily Mail and Fox News encouraged the public to reevaluate “the idea that some jobs are better than others,” Owens said.
“I’ve had a great life, I’ve had a great career,” he continued. “I’ve had a career that most actors would die for. No one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine.”
Watch the full “Good Morning America” segment below: