On Saturday, a New Jersey woman by the name of Karma Lawrence spotted actor Geoffrey Owens working at her local Trader Joe’s.
She went on to share photos of The Cosby Show alum with Daily Mail and Fox News. Owens portrayed Elvin Tibideaux in 44 episodes from 1985 to 1992 on the sitcom.
The news outlets produced stories about Owens, painting the actor’s grocery store job in a negative light.
The Daily Mail article chose to share the hourly wage that Trader Joe’s employees typically make in the area. They also called him a “former star.”
They also quoted Lawrence on her reaction when she saw Owens.
“I would have thought after The Cosby Show he would maybe be doing something different.”
“It was a shock to see him working there and looking the way he did. It made me feel really bad.”
“I was like, ‘Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier’.”
But the internet disapproved of how the articles depicted Geoffrey Owens.
Many people took to Twitter to defend the actor, reminding others that being a featured player in a single TV show does not always provide never-ending wealth. Working actors often need second or third jobs to supplement their income and pay the bills.
Some people pointed out just how well Trader Joe’s takes care of its employees, making it a good fit as a second income between acting jobs.
Trader Joe’s offers:
– Living wages with potential 7-10% raises annually
– Health, dental and vision coverage
– Paid time off
– Good corporate culture
– In-store discount
How dare you shame ANYONE for working & making a living, actor or no. https://t.co/8DA5nl7eNf
— .ashley. (@AshleyEsqueda) September 1, 2018
I worked at TJs for years. They provide part time workers health insurance and if I lost my insurance tomorrow, the first place I would apply is Trader Joe’s. People work there for many reasons but the big one is this: it’s a good place to work. Fuck fox for this classist shit. https://t.co/D6GWvv8Xi9
— Katy Kelleher (@KatyKelleher) September 1, 2018
What's funny is working at a grocery store is objectively better than acting (union, reliable pay, reliable hours, health insurance, more opportunities as a woman or POC over 25, opportunity for advancement)
— (((Chandra Prater))) (@chandraprater) September 1, 2018
Others—including actors and members of the industry—took the opportunity to educate the general public.
Only a small percentage of actors seen on TV, in movies or on Broadway are actually rich.
For those of you shaming Geoffrey Owens, go look at his IMDB page. He works as an actor. But actors get paid crap these days unless they are a lead on a network show. Despite the many channels and platforms these days, the pay has gone down an incredible amount for all of us.
— Brian Scolaro (@BRIAN_SCOLARO) September 1, 2018
When I look at this picture of Geoffrey Owens, the only things that come to my mind are courage, humility and dedication. Very few artists, especially actors, can fully support themselves in their craft. Taking honest, hard work to offset those dry periods is honorable. pic.twitter.com/tql80NegJt
— Aharon Rabinowitz (@ABAOProductions) September 2, 2018
— Soraya Roberts (@SorayaRoberts) September 1, 2018
Maybe instead of shaming an actor who used to be on tv for having a 2nd job in a grocery store we should be talking about the poor wages most actors get paid. Senior actors getting less than an office junior is not uncommon. 2nd jobs are inevitable & actors have to be resourceful
— Juliet Cauthery (@julietta_cauth) September 1, 2018
But mostly, people found the shaming by the Daily Mail, Fox News and Karma Lawrence to just be shameful.
I hate stories like this. He’s a man working hard, there’s shame in publishing this story but not in this man’s job. https://t.co/ZaNxPAfjQu
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) August 31, 2018
“Geoffrey Owens still acts occasionally, works at Trader Joe’s, and ministers to others in need, setting a good example for people everywhere. What a great guy.” That’s what @FoxNews should have said. https://t.co/Q14ZkpotYQ
— Dayna Steele for US Congress TX36 (@daynasteele) September 1, 2018
Geoffrey Owens is a great actor who I saw play Puck in William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream at the Joseph Papp theater. He killed it. If you see him working anywhere get his autograph and wish him well.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) September 1, 2018
I’ve worked as a cleaning person in a video store, washed dishes, bussed tables, worked in a law office, catered, waitered and more. Work is work, always be prepared to do it. Geoffrey Owens is a testimony to the dignity of work and to frame it as anything else is ignorant. https://t.co/IyL2i6OvwY
— Tony: A Scent Created By John Gemberling (@TonyAtamanuik) September 1, 2018
But Dictionary.com let them all three know what their photos and mocking words really were.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) September 1, 2018