About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.

Exclusive

Geoffrey Owens Says Losing TV Royalties After Bill Cosby’s Scandal 'Impacted Me Financially'

Posted on

Geoffrey Owens says the Bill Cosby scandal was just one of the factors that led him to search for work outside of his industry, including bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s.

Owens, 57, had been receiving royalties from The Cosby Show for years. But when Cosby, 81, was accused and later convicted of sexual assault, reruns were pulled from syndications, and the checks stopped coming.

“Yes, it impacted me financially,” Owens exclusively tells PEOPLE. “At the time that the show was pulled, that did make a difference in our income. That was one of the elements that led to my getting to the place where I said to myself, ‘I have to do something’ and I was thinking, ‘What can I do?’ and the answer ended up being Trader Joe’s, which is actually a wonderful situation for me in many ways. But I got to the point, I just had to do something to support myself and my family.”

After a customer took a photo of Owens, who played Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show from 1985 to 1992, working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey, the actor says he was beyond “hurt.”

“I felt really humiliated,” Owens says of the photo. “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.”

And while The Cosby Show star benefitted financially from the show’s success, he knew not to bank his entire career on the aftermath.

“I didn’t think I was set for life,” he says. “I didn’t think of it either way. I was single at the time, no family, and The Cosby Show paid me some fairly decent money for a single guy who never even expected to be on TV and was just happy to be doing theater. I felt like I had plenty of money, but set for life, no. But I was fine.”

He adds: “I always expected that one way or another I would work and make a living. Whether it was teaching, directing, acting, little job here and little job there, then I’d patch it together. I didn’t forsee working at a place like Trader Joe’s, as great as that place is. I didn’t foresee going out of the business for work, but I thought that within the business, I would patch together a modest living, at least enough to get by.”

Owens, who has since appeared on a number of shows including DivorceIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Built to Last, says steady roles are few and far between.

“The funny thing is, I never go too long without booking something, which is not a suprprise, the only issue is, the things that I book last one day or two days at the most,” he says. “I’ll book something for one day but then not work three or four months.”

But he couldn’t be more content with the life he’s leading now.

“No, I wouldn’t [change my life],” he adds, saying acting is “my calling. I’m going to keep pursuing it. I’m going to persevere. And even if that means, that eventually when all this hoopla dies down, I might need to take another job outside of the business. I’m still willing to do that.”

Outbrain

Tags