What We Can All Learn From Geoffrey Owens #ActorsWithDayJobs
"There is no job that's better than another job." - Geoffrey Owens
The Twittersphere has been a buzz since photos of "The Cosby Show" actor, Geoffrey Owens, working as a cashier at Trader Joe's led to news headlines that attempted to job shame him last week. Instead, what followed was a flood of tweets expressing support from the actor's union, SAG-AFTRA, and working actors everywhere through the hashtag, #ActorsWithDayJobs.
This #LaborDay, we honor #geoffreyowens and ALL of the hard-working actors who work 1, 2, 3 day jobs in order to pay the bills, take care of their families & still work to entertain us. #ActorsWithDayJobs, share yours loud and proud! We’re here for you! https://t.co/9ZGmrefHeK— SAG-AFTRA Foundation (@sagaftraFOUND) September 3, 2018
Owens, a seasoned actor and director of 30+ years, expressed his need for extra income in an interview with Good Morning America, "I got to a point where, you know, I'd been teaching, acting, directing for thirty-plus years, but you know, got to a point where ... it just didn't add up enough." He continues to share that he worked at the New Jersey Trader Joe's for 15 months leading up to when his photo went viral. "I wanted a job where I could have some flexibility," expressing that he didn't share his day job publicly because he didn't want the entertainment industry to think he'd transitioned away from acting.
Which brings me to the broader issue... Why are we supposed to be ashamed to hustle?
Growing up in a rural town in central Florida, I've spent my life surrounded by hardworking people. Everyone I knew was working and doing as many jobs as they could to provide for themselves and their families. My grandfather was a three-war Army veteran who celebrated his 40th birthday while defending our country in Vietnam. After a twenty year career in the armed forces, he started his own contracting business that he and my mother ran together until he retired. They sold the business and my mom transitioned into real estate. Today, she still practices real estate... while also side hustling estate sales and working weekends at a vintage store she has a couple of booths in. In my family, WE WORK; and it's something I've never been ashamed of. I'm proud to work and be associated with hardworking people.
The news headlines attempting to job shame Geoffrey Owens only perpetuates the mentality that hard work means you're not successful and that side hustling means you're struggling.
Whether you freelance, work three jobs or side hustle on the weekends - work hard and be proud of it. We all work to reach a bigger goal and I applaud Owens, SAG-AFTRA and all of the members of the entertainment industry who shared their day jobs publicly.
🙋🏼♀️Got a job as a hostess when I left General Hospital. Many didn’t understand why I’d leave #GH without another acting gig waiting for me. (If only we could all be so lucky). This is what dedication to your artistic happiness actually looks like. #actorswithdayjobs https://t.co/t1nGRFf9Zz— julie berman (@itsjulieberman) September 3, 2018
After waiting on Patti Smith she came up to me and said, “I know this may not be what you really want to be doing. But you’re very good at it - and it’s important to be good at what we are doing right now.” She gave me a hug and left. #ActorsWithDayJobs— Nick Westrate (@westratenick) September 4, 2018
"This business of my being "the Cosby guy" that got shamed for working at Trader Joe's, that's going to pass. ... I hope what doesn't pass is this idea that people are now thinking, this rethinking about what it means to work." Since Owens' story broke, he's already been offered an acting job from Tyler Perry and according to TMZ, has accepted it and begins shooting next week.
The job is reportedly for OWN's "The Haves and the Have Nots" where Owens will play a recurring role throughout 10 episodes. A job that certainly wouldn't have come if he hadn't kept hustling. "Every job is worthwhile and valuable. And if we ... have kind of a rethinking about that because of what's happened to me, that would be great."