Geoffrey Owens as nothing but love for Trader Joe’s.
Two months ago, The Cosby Show actor was job-shamed when photos surfaced of him bagging groceries at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey. Since then, he’s received an influx of support from fans and celebrities alike, and even scored a handful of new gigs, including a recurring role in Tyler Perry‘s hit OWN drama, The Haves and the Have Nots.
Speaking to PEOPLE at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the Arts Awards on Thursday in Los Angeles, Owens, 57, revealed he’s returned to shop at the grocery store “several times” since the controversy.
“I’ve gone back to visit the folks about five times since this happened,” he said. “In fact, I even went back and asked my boss, ‘Hey, are we still good for me coming back?’ Because I felt like now that I’ve been blessed in this way, the idea of idleness doesn’t sit well with me.”
“I figure, if there’s ever a day that I’m not working, I’d like to go back to Trader Joe’s and actually work a day,” he continued. “I actually talked to him about that a couple of weeks ago. It’s great. They’re great people.”
Owens admitted that the last couple of months have been “just insane — in a good way.”
“The initial thing was bad — the shaming,” he said. “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.”
“This is a really good feeling,” he added. “Everywhere I go … I’ve been to New Orleans, I’ve been to L.A., New York, New Jersey, Atlanta in the last two months. Everywhere I’ve gone, people have approached me with how much this whole thing has meant to them. It’s really struck a chord. It’s really touched a nerve, this whole idea of the working man, and work, and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, it perfectly fits into all this. They’ve been supportive since the day this happened. It just makes perfect sense that I’m here tonight. Feels right.”
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Owens said he feels “rejuvenated” as an actor.
“I never went away as an actor. Even when I was working at Trader Joe’s, I was doing work as an actor,” he said. “I kept involved, but this is different. This is like a warm, sweet welcome from the industry, an acknowledgement of my past, of my accomplishments, a trust that they have in me.”
“When Tyler Perry offered me work, he knows that I can do it. He’s not stupid,” he added. “These offers that I’ve got — which I’m very grateful for, it’s a blessing when actors get offers — they know that I can deliver. They believe that I can deliver. That kind of trust, that kind of confidence, means a lot to me.”