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Former 'Cosby' Geoffrey Owens actor reacts to job offers after being shamed for bagging groceries

Geoffrey Owens spoke about all the attention he's received, including a job offer from Tyler Perry.
by Ree Hines / / Source: TODAY
Geoffrey Owens
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Geoffrey Owens first gained fame in the 1980s thanks to a recurring role on "The Cosby Show," but over the past week, the actor made headlines for working a different sort of job — and for refusing to be shamed for it.

Photos of the 57-year-old working in the checkout lane at a Trader Joe's recently made the rounds on social media and in several publications, resulting in some derision but a whole lot more passionate support.

And now even a few job offers.

In a new interview, Owens has responded to one of those offers and set the record straight about the kind of work that brings him a sense of pride.

On Tuesday, television and filmmaker Tyler Perry took to Twitter and invited the actor to join him on an Oprah Winfrey Network drama he's shooting, explaining, "I have so much respect for people who hustle between gigs," and calling it "the measure of a true artist."

"That was kind of cool," Owens told Entertainment Tonight. "I mean, that kind of sounded like he was saying, 'Come work with me' ... Like, really? Are you actually saying come work with me? Because we've never worked together before. So, that's a very, very generous thing for him to say. And we'll see what happens with that. But that's encouraging."

However, encouragement isn't the only thing he felt.

Owens said that, despite being an actor, he doesn't watch TV and has never seen any of Perry's hits. But if he ever landed a spot on one, he'd like it to be based on merit.

"I don't expect to be offered things," he insisted. "It would be lovely as one of the results of this, some doors open in terms of giving me the opportunity to audition. That, I would appreciate — always, as all actors do. I don't necessarily feel comfortable being given things as a result of this.

"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 added.

Owen, who played the part of Elvin Tibideaux on "The Cosby Show" from 1985 to 1992, has worked a variety of small screen parts over the years, in addition to down-time jobs in between.

Geoffrey Owens
Geoffrey Owens and Sabrina Le Beauf on "The Cosby Show." Courtesy Everett Collection

As for his work at Trader Joe's, that job has come to an end — and not because he no longer needs the work. It's just that the spotlight that's been put on the position — both good and bad — makes it impossible for him to continue.

"I felt like just for my personal sake, my dignity and my emotional well-being, I didn't want to be in the store while I felt like people might be staking out the place, as they did, actually," he explained. "People came to the store and they were staking it out and stuff. I didn't feel like that was going to be good for my spiritual being, so I felt like I needed to, at least temporarily, step out, and I think that was the wise thing to do, actually."

But even though the job is behind him, he's still wearing his store badge — as he did in his sit down with ET.

"It's to not be ashamed of work, but to be proud of whatever you do, you know?" he said of the gesture. "So I deliberately brought it today, and I'm wearing it all day just to make a point that, you know, work is not something to be ashamed of no matter what it is."

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