Former American Idol Co-Host Brian Dunkleman Fires Back After Being Shamed for Being an Uber Driver
Dunkleman revealed the emotional reason why he gave up showbiz and became an Uber driver
After TMZ reported on the television personality’s divorce proceedings that revealed he was making a living as an Uber driver, Dunkleman, who is best known for co-hosting Idol alongside Ryan Seacrest during its first season in 2002, fired back on Twitter Thursday.
“I chose to stop doing standup comedy and started driving an Uber so I could be there for my son as much as he needed after our life as we knew it was destroyed. Print that,” he tweeted, referring to his contentious divorce and ongoing custody battle with his estranged wife.
“And I make over a grand on a good week motherf—ers. #HumanBarnacles,” Dunkleman added in a separate tweet.
Dunkleman is currently in the middle of a divorce with wife, Kalea Dunkleman. According to financial documents obtained by TMZ, Dunkleman disclosed his occupation as “Uber driver.”
The actor said he started the job in March 2016, works about 45 hours a week, making about $800 a week, according to the documents.
Reps for Dunkleman did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Dunkleman is not the only former television star to be job-shamed after leaving Hollywood.
Former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens was also recently job-shamed when photos surfaced of him bagging groceries at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey.
Owens, who worked at the grocery store for 15 months, said he first took the job because he wanted “flexibility” in order to stay in the entertainment business. (He’s been acting, teaching and directing for over 30 years.)
The actor — who was proudly wearing his Trader Joe’s name tag in the photos — said he was “really devastated” at first — until celebrities and fans alike jumped to his defense on social media.
“The initial thing was bad — the shaming,” he later told PEOPLE. “But it lasted such a short time before the flood of support, the love rolled in. I don’t even remember what it felt like that day to feel bad, but I know what it’s felt like for the last two months to be offered work, to be offered auditions, to be approached on the street and told how much my story inspires people.”
In 2016, Dunkleman, who left Idol after co-hosting for one season, made a surprise appearance during the American Idol series finale.
“I definitely was hoping that they would ask and they contacted me about a month and a half ago,” Dunkleman previously told PEOPLE. “I actually wrote pretty much all that is said [on camera] tonight except for the opening line, which was written by their brilliant writer. It just couldn’t have been better. I’m very glad that they asked. It’s been a very, very cathartic evening for me.”
Dunkleman admitted he was very “bitter” after choosing to leave the reality singing competition after the first season.
“I think I beat them to the punch and I didn’t know,” Dunkleman said of leaving. “I left the show but from what I gather, they weren’t going to have me back anyway. So it’s kind of a big load off my shoulders. I guess I didn’t make a mistake.”
Though he claimed he was he was never told why he wasn’t going to be asked to continue his hosting duties, he accepted responsibility.
“I didn’t do a good enough job and I don’t think I handled myself as professionally as I needed to back then,” he said. “In retrospect, I really just didn’t have the wisdom I needed to handle what was going on. I like to say I was just young and stupid, but I really wasn’t that young. I was 30 years old.”
The upcoming season of American Idol premieres March 3 on ABC.