Former Cosby Show star Geoffrey Owens might be best known for his role as the lovable Elvin Tibideaux on the iconic television series, but his Trader Joe’s coworkers had no idea who he was.
25 years after the show concluded its run, the former prime-time star realized that more of the customers recognized him than his own coworkers.
“It took a number of weeks for it to dawn on some of my colleagues,” the actor told Us Weekly. “‘Weren’t you that guy, or so and so?’ Another coworker told them, but they didn’t know, so it took about three or four weeks before the staff at my store kind of wholly knew my past and who I was.”
Owens said he suspected that a few of his colleagues might have known in the beginning, but acted like they didn’t in order to give the actor his privacy.
“They just decided they would either let me tell people or people would find out on their own,” he tells Us Weekly. “It was interesting. I guess within a month or so everyone pretty much knew.”
The actor made headlines in September when a customer took photos of him bagging groceries for the food chain at its Princeton, New Jersey, location. He had quit just before the photos went viral on social media. He took the job at Trader Joe’s for its flexible hours — and because he no longer received payments for his work on The Cosby Show after the series was pulled from television. The series was pulled in the aftermath of Bill Cosby’s sex abuse scandal.
Exclusive: Geoffrey Owens opened up to Us about being job-shamed for working at Trader Joe’s. https://t.co/Ck6BJINOwc
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) November 16, 2018
He was job-shamed for working at the supermarket, which led celebrities to rally to Owens’ defense — including Tyler Perry, who offered the actor a 10-episode stint on his series, The Haves and the Have Nots.
Since being outed on social media, Owens has also been booked on NCIS: New Orleans as well for an appearance in a film titled Fatale. Prior to the September scandal, he had appeared on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
“You can’t count on offers forever. You got to be back contending like everyone else, which is what I want,” Owens tells Us Weekly.
“The work has been constant one way or another… Every time I kind of think [the attention is] going away, I realize it’s still there. The recognition on the street is still there everywhere I go.”
Owens’ former Cosby Show co-star Keshia Knight Pulliam stated to Us Weekly that she was “happy” for her friend, calling him an “amazing man.” She also noted that she was grateful that a light was shown on Owens’ situation — and that job shaming anyone for earning an honest living has to stop.