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.
“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.”
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.
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 Show from 1985 to 1992. He has since appeared across television shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Leftovers, Divorce, Lucifer, The 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.