Two years after he was shamed by online trolls for working a retail job at Trader Joe's, former sitcom star Geoffrey Owens of The Cosby Show fame is launching a new series on Instagram highlighting essential workers. Called Shift Happens, the new series sees Owens serving as the host as he interviews employees from various workplaces about their jobs. A teaser video for the upcoming social media series has also been released on Instagram, showing how Owens turned a negative into a positive after he was the subject of his own public job shaming experience.
"As you might know, that whole thing didn't quite go as the shamers planned," Owens said in the preview video, which also shows images and clips of the actor meeting essential workers of all kinds. "A lot of good things happened to me, but the best thing about that whole thing was that people started thinking about and talking about work in a different way. They started considering the dignity of work, even the nobility of work, considering that some jobs are not necessarily better than others, and that - let's put it this way - all work matters."
Best known as a former sitcom star, Owens is famous for playing Elvin Tibideaux on the classic comedy series The Cosby Show. He would continue to make sporadic appearances in other television shows over the years, which includes an appearance on Lucifer when the show was still airing on Fox in 2017. In 2018, Owens made headlines when photos of him working at Trader Joe's were published on The Daily Mail, and the negative attention over the "job shaming" led to Owens quitting from the store.
Fortunately for Owens, Tyler Perry caught wind of the story and came to the actor's defense, even offering him a 10-episode story arc on the TV series The Haves and the Have Nots. Other celebrities publicly defended Owens as well, including Nicki Minaj, Terry Crews, Pamela Adlon, Blair Underwood, James Campbell, and Patricia Heaton. This would lead to other acting gigs as well, including guest starring roles in the movies Fatale and Hide and Seek along with the crime drama series NCIS: New Orleans. He would also be given a starring role as a police detective in the 2020 movie Impossible Monsters.
Owens also spoke about his stint at Trader Joe's at last year's Screen Actors Guild Awards when he was honored during the ceremony's "I Am an Actor" segment. "Somewhere in the middle of the road of my life, I found myself in the dark wood of unemployment and debt," Owens said at the event. "But instead of switching careers like a sane person, I took a job at a local Trader Joe's to see if I could hang in there with my career, and it's actually worked out pretty well. I'm Geoffrey Owens, and I am an actor."
Since working retail, Owens seems to be back to getting steady work as an actor, but it's nice to see him continue to honor others who've been working essential jobs, especially with this year proving just how vital so many of them are. It also certainly helps that Owens personally knows exactly what it's like to be in that position. The Shift Happens trailer for IGTV comes to us from Geoffrey Owens on Instagram.