Actors defend The Cosby Show star Geoffrey Owens against job shaming

September 3, 2018

EW.com | By Nick Romano

Geoffrey Owens, a former actor on The Cosby Show, found himself at the center of the news cycle when shoppers captured photos of him working at a New Jersey Trader Joe’s. The sighting sparked a number of articles that many on social media saw as acts of job shaming, but something good came out of it, too: actors, directors, and other creatives were inspired to come to Owens’ defense and share their own stories about the struggles of the industry.

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

“This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens & ALL of the hard-working actors & artists who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us,” a tweet from the official SAG-AFTRA Foundation account read. “#ActorsWithDayJobs, please share yours! We’re here for u & will.”

Fox News

@FoxNews

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/08/31/cosby-show-actor-geoffrey-owens-spotted-bagging-groceries-at-nj-trader-joes.html 

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s

Cosby Show alum Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin Tibideaux, the young doctor who married into the Cosby family on the famous sitcom, was photographed working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey.

foxnews.com

SAG-AFTRA Foundation

@sagaftraFOUND

This , we honor & ALL of the hard-working actors & artists who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us. , please share yours! We’re here for u & will RT

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Vella Lovell, Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Patricia Heaton, Quantico‘s Blair Underwood, and fellow Cosby Show actress Yvette Heyliger came out of the woodwork to voice their support of Owens, 57.

“Waitress, hostess, box office worker, nanny, receptionist, personal organizer. The norm for an artist is not being paid to do what we love, the norm is to HUSTLE and do whatever it takes to chase that dream,” Lovell wrote. “There is no shame in that — only pride.”

“When I worked on ‘Thirtysomething’ I was also summarizing depositions to pay my rent,” Heaton tweeted at Fox News, which ran one of these seemingly job-shaming articles along with The Daily Mail. “Why are you trying to humiliate this honorable, hardworking actor?”

Heylinger also recalled her “15 minutes of fame as Phylicia Rashad’s sister on The Cosby Show,” while her husband “carried” her family. “It was a huge sacrifice, but that was how I stayed in show business as long as I did,” she wrote.

Vella Lovell

@vellalovell

Waitress, hostess, box office worker, nanny, receptionist, personal organizer. The norm for an artist is not being paid to do what we love, the norm is to HUSTLE and do whatever it takes to chase that dream. There is no shame in that—only pride.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation

@sagaftraFOUND

This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens and ALL of the hard-working actors who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us. #ActorsWithDayJobs, share yours loud and proud! We’re here for you! https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-shaming-of-geoffrey-owens-and-the-inability-to-see-actors-as-laborers-too 

Yvette Heyliger@Twinbizness

Had my 15 minutes of fame as Phylicia Rashad’s sister on The Cosby Show. I worked mostly when it was time to raise money to produce one of my plays. My husband carried our family. It was a huge sacrifice, but that was how I stayed in show business as long as I did.

Patricia Heaton

@PatriciaHeaton

Again, why is this news? When I worked on “Thirtysomething” I was also summarizing depositions to pay my rent. Why are you trying to humiliate this honorable, hardworking actor? Shame on you! – many great blessings are coming your way!

Fox News

@FoxNews

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/08/31/cosby-show-actor-geoffrey-owens-spotted-bagging-groceries-at-nj-trader-joes.html 

Blair Underwood

@BlairUnderwood

in good, honest, hard work. He’s being a man in doing what he needs to do to provide for himself and his family. Much respect to you Sir! http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/08/31/cosby-show-actor-geoffrey-owens-spotted-bagging-groceries-at-nj-trader-joes.html 

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s

Cosby Show alum Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin Tibideaux, the young doctor who married into the Cosby family on the famous sitcom, was photographed working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey.

foxnews.com

BounceTV decided to pull reruns of The Cosby Show after star Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault during his trial. In 2016, before Cosby’s conviction, Theo Huxtable actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner said pulling The Cosby Show from the air would mean losing residual checks for the cast. “It’s literally taking money out of my pocket. So I got my own personal feelings about that, because it personally affects me,” he noted.

Owens played Dr. Elvin Tibideaux, Sondra Huxtable’s husband, on The Cosby Showfrom 1985 to 1992. He has since appeared across television shows like It’s Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaThe LeftoversDivorceLuciferThe Blacklist, and Elementary.

Terry Crews and Dan Rather were among the other entertainment and broadcast news figures showing their support for Owens on social media. Read more responses below.

terrycrews

@terrycrews

I swept floors AFTER the @NFL. If need be, I’d do it again. Good honest work is nothing to be ashamed of.

Yashar Ali 🐘

@yashar

Delete this. The man is trying to put food on the table and you’re trying to humiliate him? https://twitter.com/foxnews/status/1035663476180615168 

Dan Rather

@DanRather

So Fox News shames a man for working at Trader Joe’s because he was once on a hit TV show? Demonizing hard work while abetting grifters enriching themselves on tax dollars is a potent stew of hypocrisy and irony. Maybe we’re unknowing extras in a revival of the Twilight Zone.

JD Scott

@MrJDScott

This made me so sad that a supposed “News” source would shame a man for simply working a job. How dare they pass judgement on his situation. 😞 Weak @FoxNews.

A photo of actor Geoffrey Owens bagging groceries sparked a conversation about classism https://twitter.com/i/events/1036053343326547968 

A photo of actor Geoffrey Owens bagging groceries sparked a conversation about classism

Bradford Anderson

@BfordAnderson

After I left GH in 2013, I immediately signed up to be an Uber driver. In this business there are peaks and valleys and you never know how long they’ll last. No shame in making a living. Only shame in mocking others…

Fox News

@FoxNews

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/08/31/cosby-show-actor-geoffrey-owens-spotted-bagging-groceries-at-nj-trader-joes.html 

julie berman

@itsjulieberman

🙋🏼‍♀️Got a job as a hostess when I left General Hospital. Many didn’t understand why I’d leave without another acting gig waiting for me. (If only we could all be so lucky). This is what dedication to your artistic happiness actually looks like.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation

@sagaftraFOUND

This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens and ALL of the hard-working actors who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us. #ActorsWithDayJobs, share yours loud and proud! We’re here for you! https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-shaming-of-geoffrey-owens-and-the-inability-to-see-actors-as-laborers-too 

SAG-AFTRA Foundation

@sagaftraFOUND

We couldn’t do what we do at the Foundation without our hard-working staff and many of them are also actors. Respect to @dennisbaker @Rockinrosh @LaurenDonoghue and all . Actors, what’s your day job(s)? https://twitter.com/dennisbaker/status/1036459745098444800 

Keisuke Hoashi

@KeisukeHoashi

I used to have a GREAT day job as a tech writer, multimedia designer and developer. I also entertained the troops at these high-tech multinational corps by singing, dancing, and emcee-ing their All-Hands meetings & holiday parties. Woot!

Justine Bateman

@JustineBateman

So, 26 years after one TV job, this guy looks differently (shock) and is earning an honest living at a Trader Joe’s. The people taking his picture and passing judgment are trash. http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/08/31/cosby-show-actor-geoffrey-owens-spotted-bagging-groceries-at-nj-trader-joes.html 

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s

Cosby Show alum Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin Tibideaux, the young doctor who married into the Cosby family on the famous sitcom, was photographed working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey.

foxnews.com

Justine Bateman

@JustineBateman

I’ll also add that GeoffreyOwens is one of the VERY few people on the planet who has acted on a hit TV show. That is something I’m certain that Karma Lawrence has never, and will never do.

jacqueline mckenzie

@JMcKenzie

most of us have PHD’s at waiting tables.I filed journals in lawyers office, worked a hot food cafeteria, was a terrible barista- that’s an ART! Day jobs can pay better &bring us closer 2 reality, 2 our audience & in turn make us better actors.

DENNIS BAKER@dennisbaker

In lieu of the #geoffreyowens pic and article, let’s start a new hashtag: #ActorsWithDayJobs where we don’t have shame about ALL the work we do. My day job is at the @sagaftraFOUND where I’m able to assist fellow #actors. What is your day job? #actorslife #noshame

Chase Mitchell

@ChaseMit

If you’re trying to shame a cast member from The Cosby Show, I could think of an easier target

Fox News

@FoxNews

‘Cosby Show’ actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe’s http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/08/31/cosby-show-actor-geoffrey-owens-spotted-bagging-groceries-at-nj-trader-joes.html 

Erynn Dalton@erynndalton

Actors, writers, directors, indeed ALL artists work side gigs to support ourselves – the dream isn’t necessarily wealth as much it is to be able to support ourselves with our art someday. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-shaming-of-geoffrey-owens-and-the-inability-to-see-actors-as-laborers-too 

The Shaming of Geoffrey Owens and the Inability to See Actors as Laborers, Too

By undervaluing the labor of creative professions, we put artists in a double bind: their artistic work isn’t seen as work, but it’s also assumed to be so lucrative that any non-acting job they might…

newyorker.com

Pamela Adlon

@pamelaadlon

I had been a working actor for years. Jobs stopped, as they do. I worked in retail. At a flower shop. I passed out flyers. It’s about the work. Work gives you pride and purpose. Your visibility as an actor never goes away. But the money sure does.

Nischelle Turner

@nischelleturner

In 2008, I left a job at KTTV voluntarily. Then the economy crashed & I couldn’t find steady work. I struggled. At one point I called my agent & told her I was going to apply at Target. I wasn’t ashamed. I needed to work. I had bills. And an honest days work is just that, honest.

Jessica Collins

@JessicaCollins

Thank U @sagaftraFOUND I’m a proud, union working actor for 30 yrs & at various times, between acting gigs, I waitressed, painted houses, & cooked in a restaurant kitchen. Cheers to ALL actors who take care of themselves & their families. 💪🎭

SAG-AFTRA Foundation

@sagaftraFOUND

This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens and ALL of the hard-working actors who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us. #ActorsWithDayJobs, share yours loud and proud! We’re here for you! https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-shaming-of-geoffrey-owens-and-the-inability-to-see-actors-as-laborers-too 

Rebecca Metz

@TheRebeccaMetz

Right now I’m on the of the lucky few who gets to just be an actor. But for 15+ years, I was also an admin assistant, customer service manager, online community manager, freelance writer, telemarketer, & SAT tutor… & will do it again if I gotta.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation

@sagaftraFOUND

This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens and ALL of the hard-working actors who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us. #ActorsWithDayJobs, share yours loud and proud! We’re here for you! https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-shaming-of-geoffrey-owens-and-the-inability-to-see-actors-as-laborers-too