On Good Morning America earlier this week, actor Geoffrey Owens proudly sat, donning his Trader Joe’s name tag, and publicly addressed his feelings about his recent viral moment.
Many celebrities online rushed to Owens' defense after a woman submitted a photo to the Daily Mail of Owens working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey over Labor Day weekend. Owens was clear, however, that he's not ashamed: "There's no job that's better than another job," Owens said on Good Morning America. "It might pay better, it might have better benefits, look better on a resume or on paper, but actually it's not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable."
Owens initially began working at the grocery store because it gave him flexibility to pursue acting jobs. (Also, the company also pays well and offers medical, dental, and vision benefits as well as retirement plans.) Over the course of the week, Owens has vocalized his distaste over job-shaming and other forms of elitism and classism that he has faced since his photo went viral. So why — after all of this — did Nicki Minaj give him a handout?
The rapper pledged to give $25,000 to the former Cosby Show actor on her Queen Radio show on Thursday. “I personally want to donate, on behalf of Queen Radio, $25,000 to Geoffrey Owens,” Minaj said. “Y’all don’t know how difficult it is to keep getting jobs and you want to put somebody up on the fucking internet?”
Though it seems that Minaj did make the pledge with good intentions, her actions do feel somewhat like a charitable handout — something that Owens has not seemed particularly open to. The actor said specifically that he did not want to get gigs or handouts just because of this viral phenomenon. “I wouldn't mind getting auditions, but I actually wouldn't feel comfortable with someone giving me a job because this happened,” Owens said on Good Morning America. “I want to get a job because I'm the right person for that job.” However, it's worth noting that Owens has reportedly accepted an offer for a ten-episode run of a Tyler Perry show.
Owens has not shied away from expressing his contentment in having worked a stable job while pursuing his dreams. And, in a culture that regularly job shames artists working side gigs to finance their career dreams as well as working class and poor people for non-glamorous jobs, it’s important that Owens' refreshing perspectives serve as lessons to us all.
In the end, it remains to be seen how Owens responds to Minaj’s gesture, but one thing is for sure: we should bear his words in mind: "No one should feel sorry for me, either from a positive or negative perspective," Owens said. "I’ve had a great life, I’ve had a great career. I’ve had a career most actors would die for so no one has to feel sorry for me. I’m doing fine."