Actors have come to the defence of a former Cosby Show star who was photographed working as a cashier at a supermarket.
A woman in New Jersey shopping at her local Trader Joe’s said she was shocked to see Geoffrey Owens, who played Sondra Huxtable’s husband Elvin Tibideaux in the series, bagging her groceries.
“I pulled up a site on the internet to look at a picture of him and said, ‘That is him’,” the woman, Karma Lawrence, told the Daily Mail.
“It was a shock to see him working there and looking the way he did.
“It made me feel really bad. I was like, ‘Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier’.”
The tone of the story, which was shared widely and followed by other outlets including Fox News, struck many as unfair.
People in the entertainment industry suggested that not only was there nothing wrong with working at a supermarket, but that taking on a second gig was the norm for actors, who can go long periods between jobs.
While the top film stars earn millions, the average member of the Screen Actors Guild earns about $US50,000 a year, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with the vast majority earning less than $US1,000 per job.
“Those of us who have been in this industry a while know the determination it takes, through good times and bad,” the Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim said.
“We’ve all been there.”
Adina Porter, of True Blood and American Horror Story, suggested Owens should feel no shame.
Australian actress Jacqueline McKenzie said most actors had “PhDs at waiting tables”.
Owens has had many roles in film and television since his time in The Cosby Show, including appearances in the last few years in the series Lucifer, Divorce and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Some in the industry pointed out that Owens would have been directly financially affected by the actions of the show’s lead, the convicted sex offender Bill Cosby.
After more than 60 women accused Cosby of sexual assault, TV networks stopped airing old episodes of the show, meaning Owens would no longer receive any royalties from his work.