What a weird week it’s been for The Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens. After being publicly shamed for working at Trader Joe’s between his acting jobs, he’s now celebrating because he landed a role on a Tyler Perry OWN series, The Haves and the Have Nots.
Yahoo Entertainment has learned it’s a done deal — after Perry reached out to Owens on social media to extend the job offer. Owens’s role will be recurring, and he’ll appear in 10 episodes of the drama, which is shot in Atlanta and intersects the lives of the rich and poor, a source close to Perry says.
Owens initially didn’t know what to make of Perry’s tweet, telling Entertainment Tonight, “I mean, that kind of sounded like he was saying, ‘Come work with me.’ I’m so, like, skeptical. Like, really? Are you actually saying come work with me? Because we’ve never worked together before.” And while he called it “a very, very generous thing” for Perry to say, he was cautious, saying, “We’ll see what happens with that.”
#GeoffreyOwens I’m about to start shootings OWN’s number one drama next week! Come join us!!! I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs. The measure of a true artist.
— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) September 4, 2018
Owens added that while it would be “lovely” to have “some doors open” in the wake of this incident “in terms of giving me the opportunity to audition,” he went on to say, “I don’t necessarily feel comfortable being given things as a result of this. I’m not in a position to turn things down but … I like the idea of, you know, put me in the room with everyone else and see if I’m the right one for the job.”
He has reason to be cautious. After being “hurt” and “humiliated” by news stories shaming him for working at a New Jersey grocery store — leading him to quit the job he held for 15 months and call his son at school to “apologize” for “embarrassing him” (his son’s response was everything) — Owens received a tremendous amount of support from fellow actors, many of whom shared stories about the side jobs they’ve held between acting gigs.
In fact, on Thursday, rapper Nicki Minaj said she was so touched by the whole thing that on her radio show, she offered to give $25,000 to Owens, whom she called a “legend.” She later told Entertainment Tonight, “Some people are on the internet and seeking attention, and he’s just the antithesis of that. So I felt like, ‘Oh my God, could you imagine?’ We all have done jobs like that and I just thought, what if that were me? Or a family member and they were minding their own business, working to feed their family and somebody tried to humiliate them? I don’t like the way that feels.”
Minaj added that she hopes Owens — who played Elvin Tibideaux, the son-in-law of Bill Cosby’s character, Cliff Huxtable, for seven years before the show ended in 1992 — isn’t taking her offer the wrong way. (Frankly, we’d be surprised if he took the money after what he’s said about being “given things as a result of this.” Plus, he has a new job! With Tyler Perry!)
Owens told Good Morning America earlier this week that he received has been “nonstop.” The Yale grad explained why he took the job bagging groceries, saying, “I’d been teaching acting and directing for 30-plus years, but it just got to a point where it didn’t add up enough.” He also lost residual income after networks stopped airing Cosby Show reruns after women came forward accusing Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. But Owens added, “No one should feel sorry for me. 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.”
Meanwhile, the woman who took the photo of Owens working at Trader Joe’s has spoken out to express regret. Karma Lawrence told NJ.com that she snapped the photo and submitted it to celebrity websites she regularly reads. “I figured everybody does it,” said Lawrence, who says she wasn’t paid for the photo. “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.”
A Cosby Show fan, Lawrence went on to say she had no idea Owens would be job-shamed over the photo, and she cried about it for a half-hour. Lawrence said she’s been shamed too; she had to shut down her social media accounts because of mean messages. “So much hate. So much nastiness. Oh, it’s been terrible,” she added.
Well, things are certainly looking up for Owens.
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