The woman who took Geoffrey Owens’ photo at Trader Joe’s is full of regret.
In an interview with NJ.com, Karma Lawrence apologized for any pain she caused the 57-year-old Cosby Show alum after the Daily Mail and Fox News published her photos of him bagging groceries in New Jersey last week.
“I don’t know why I snuck a picture,” said Lawrence, 50. “I figured everybody does it. I don’t know what possessed me. I just did it. I didn’t even think about it. I just kind of did it on impulse and it was a bad impulse.”
“I actually wanted to go up to him and say something, but I thought, you might embarrass him,” she continued. “But then I did something that actually embarrassed him more. I didn’t go with my first instinct, and I should’ve.”
Lawrence — who said she wasn’t paid for the photos — said she had no idea that they would spark such furor over job-shaming. (Actors and fans alike have jumped to Owens’ defense on social media.)
Once she realized the photos had gone viral, with many passing cruel judgment on Owens for earning an honest living, Lawrence said she cried.
“It wasn’t malicious,” she said. “That’s on my kids, my grandkids, my parents. I’m not that type of a person. I’m not the monster they’re making me out to be.”
“When I saw him working there I thought maybe because of everything with Bill Cosby that his residuals got cut,” she continued. “And people have to take a normal job. But I didn’t think anything bad about it. I work a normal job.”
Lawrence said she’s thought about reaching out to Owens, though she isn’t sure how.
“I would tell him, ‘I am extremely, extremely apologetic about what has happened,’ ” she said. “And if I could take it back, I would.”
Appearing on Good Morning America on Tuesday, Owens, who was proudly wearing his Trader Joe’s name tag, said he was “really devastated” at first — until he began to realize how much support was out there.
“The period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that, the responses, my wife and I started to read [them] … and fortunately the shame part didn’t last very long,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Owens, who worked at the grocery store for 15 months, said he first took the job because he wanted “flexibility” in order to stay in the entertainment business, but he’s since quit over the attention. (He’s been acting, teaching and directing for over 30 years.)
Above all, the actor — who played Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show from 1985 to 1992 — said he hopes his experience will reshape “what it means to work, the honor of the working person, [and] the dignity of work.”
“There is no job that’s better than another job,” he said. “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.”
“No one should feel sorry for me,” he added. “I’ve had a great life. I’ve had a great career. I’ve had a career that most actors would die for. So no one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine!”
And in fact, he might be doing even better now: Fimmaker Tyler Perry has since offered Owens a job.
“#GeoffreyOwens I’m about to start shootings OWN’s number one drama next week! Come join us!!!” Perry tweeted Tuesday. “I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs. The measure of a true artist.”