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Now, the actor will join the top drama on OWN with a 10-episode recurring role.
Owens, 57, who played Sondra Huxtable’s husband Elvin Tibideaux on “The Cosby Show” from 1985 to 1992, was photographed by a customer while working at a New Jersey Trader Joe’s. The photos were posted by Daily Mail.
Owens told People he got a call before the story was published by the British tabloid outlet. He said the photos were hurtful and embarrassing.
“It really hurt,” Owens said. “I felt really humiliated. From the time that I heard that the article might be done to the time it came out, I tried to envision the worse case scenario just to prepare myself and then it was just a little bit worse. If that was possible. They went out of their way to find the very worst picture of me, in the worst shirt and the worst posture. The words they used to describe me were so demeaning. It hurt.”
Related: Geoffrey Owens, ‘The Cosby Show’ actor offered acting gig after being seen working at Trader Joe’s
Owens said he immediately thought of his only child, his son, when he first saw the story.
“My wife and I were together when we saw it,” Owens said. “It made me think of my son. I texted my son and warned him about the story breaking. I actually apologized to him for embarrassing him, because I knew that he’s in school away from us. I knew his classmates would see it and he’d be humiliated and embarrassed. I apologized to him.”
“Even before the wave of support rolled in within an hour or two, he sent me a beautiful text back about how proud he was of me. I cried, I just broke down. He felt the opposite of embarrassment. He was so proud that I had taken the job. It was beautiful.
“With my wife’s support and my son’s reactions, all before the counter-reaction came in, I felt very supported and loved. Then, the encouragement from all over the world started to come in and that was unbelievable and overwhelming.”
CNN reported that Owens has since resigned from his Trader Joe's job, which he said he had to make ends meet and support his family in between acting gigs, which in the past have included parts on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "That's So Raven," "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," "Bluebloods," "Divorce" on HBO and "Lucifer." He'd been working at the grocery store for 15 months.
On top of the new acting gig, Nicki Minaj has said she will donate $25,000 to Owens, CNN reported.
“I hope he doesn't take it the wrong way,” she said on her Queen Radio show on Beats 1 Wednesday. “I just want to help him in any way I can.”