Ever since someone photographed Geoffrey Owens doing cashier work at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey and shared it with the media, who seemingly shamed his fall from Cosby Show grace, he’s received an incredible amount of support.
Still, despite the outpouring of encouragement from everyday people and celebrities alike, Owens wound up quitting his job at the Trader Joe’s following the unwanted attention according to NJ. com. He also told Good Morning America in a new interview on Tuesday morning that the coverage about his employment there was “devastating” for him.
When I first saw the pictures…I was really devastated,” he said to Robin Roberts, appearing on-air with his Trader’s Joe name tag.
“But the period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that, the responses my wife and I started to read, these responses from literally all over the world of support. Fortunately, the shame part didn’t last very long. It hurt but then, it’s just amazing.”
When asked how he ended up at Trader Joe’s, Owens said he needed the extra income, but also needed a job that would provide him flexibility in terms of his hours.
“I got to a point where I had been teaching acting and directing for 30 plus years, but got to a point where it just didn’t add up enough and you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said. “I wanted a job where I could have some flexibility. Try to stay in the business. I didn’t advertise that I was at Trader Joe’s, not because I was ashamed of it, but because I didn’t want the entertainment community to decide, ‘He’s doing that, he’s not pursuing acting anymore.’ I felt like I had to be careful about that.”
Owens was employed at the grocery store for 15 months before he was exposed, at work. However, he noted that people always recognized him, but they were “very, very cool about it.”
With all of the exposure, many may think the acting jobs have started flowing in, but Owens said that isn’t really the case. Even if it were, he doesn’t want sympathy gigs.
“I mean, there have been some hints, interest in stuff. Honestly, this might sound weird but I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting acting jobs from this event,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind getting auditions. I don’t mind if people call me in to try out for things, due to what’s happened, but I actually wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone giving me a job because this happened. I want to get a job because I’m the right person for that job.”
But what he wants most from this unfortunate incident, which he says will surely pass soon enough, is for people to realize that at the end of the day, there is no work that is better or beneath any other. Every job, big or small, is rewarding.
“I hope what doesn’t pass is this rethinking of what it means to work. The honor of the working person and the dignity of work,” he said. “I hope that this period that we’re in, we have a heightened sensitivity about that and a reevaluation of what it means to work, and a reevaluation of the idea that some jobs are better than others — because that’s actually not true. There’s no job that’s better than another job. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume and on paper, but actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable. If we have a rethinking about that because of what’s happened to me, that would be great. But no one should feel sorry for me, either from a positive or negative perspective. I’ve had a great life. I’ve had a great career. I’ve had a career that most actors would really die for. So no one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine.”