Cosby Show Actor Geoffrey Owens Talks His Reaction And Career After Viral Trader Joe's Photo

Geoffrey Owens on Elementary
(Image credit: Photo courtesy of CBS)

After 26 years spent sort-of out of the limelight, The Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens was thrust into the spotlight earlier this week when a viral photo of the actor working a side gig at Trader Joe's rolled around the Internet. The original post seemed to tout his work as an undesirable job, but many people online felt that description was unfair and we should be celebrating hard work, not getting snarky about it. No matter how we personally feel about the issue, it has thrust the actor himself back into the cultural conversation, and recently Geoffrey Owens revealed what happened to his career after The Cosby Show and how he felt when the originally post broke. He said:

I was only devastated for an hour or two. It was hurtful but very short lived. What has been sustained, now over days, is how much love and support there is. Not just for me, but for working people. The idea that, 'Hey, what's wrong with working at Trader Joe's, or any job like that?'

Speaking out in an open interview with CNN, Geoffrey Owens talked about his initial reaction when the first photo went viral, noting that he was not super happy about what he saw. He previously revealed on Good Morning America that he had been recognized by other fans of The Cosby Show during his 15-month tenure at Trader Joe's, but normally the reactions were positive and made him feel good. The tweet heard 'round the Internet did not. Luckily, after his initial devastation, he realized a lot of people were happy that the actor had put his head down and worked hard to support his family, telling GMA it was "really overwhelming, in a good way."

Geoffrey Owens also talked about his career trajectory, noting that just because an actor is on a successful series once doesn't mean that those jobs just grow on trees. He says a lot of the work he has been doing in recent years paid less well

People don't realize because of the reruns that [the show] ended 26 years ago. In the past 26 years, I have hardly ever had an acting job that lasted more than 10 weeks. Most of those jobs were theater jobs that pay a lot less than television and film. I got to the point that I needed to take a job to pay my bills, to support my family, it was basically that. I wanted a job that had some flexibility, so that if I did stay in entertainment industry, if I could continue to audition and do jobs if I could, and Trader Joe's provided that.

Geoffrey Owens admits that a lot of things contributed to him taking the job at Trader Joe's including the fact that The Cosby Show reruns were pulled from a lot of second life platforms after allegations about Bill Cosby came to light, but that wasn't the only reason he took a flexible job, like working at Trader Joe's.

I lost a lot of money from that, yes. I don't feel sorry for myself about that. But the fact is that was another contributing factor, along with everything else everyone has to deal with -- medical bills, car issues, kids in college, you name it.

The actor is someone who always wants to come through and make ends meet, and people in the industry clearly respect that. Tyler Perry even came out and offered to help out the actor, if he wants the help.

Owen also said in the interview that he would appreciate the chance to audition for roles and for something good to come out of the viral photo, but he also said he doesn't "expect" anyone in the industry to give him a job. He wants to earn it. Hopefully, the viral photo that earned him some ire will end up being a blessing in disguise.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.