Shine on, Geoffrey Owens! The Cosby Show alum made a surprise appearance at the 2019 SAG Awards on Sunday, January 27, during the opening segment.
“Somewhere in the middle of the road of my life, I found myself in the dark wood of unemployment and debt,” the 57-year-old said while sitting at his table inside the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where guests sipped Fiji Water. “But instead of switching careers like a sane person, I took a job at a local Trader Joe’s to see if I could hang in there with my career. And, um, it’s actually worked out pretty well. I’m Geoffrey Owens and I am an actor.”
The Will & Grace star, 60, then took the stage for her opening monologue, during which she gave shout-outs to Lady Gaga, Glenn Close and other A-list attendees in addition to applauding the diversity in the films nominated this year.
“Obviously we still have a ways to go, but in 2018, Hollywood did manage to get a few things right,” Mullally said. “They cast black people in Black Panther, so that was good. Asian people in Crazy Rich Asians, a step in the right direction. And a green book in Green Book. You know there was some executive saying, ‘Um, could the book be white?’”
Owens made headlines in September 2018 after a Trader Joe’s customer snapped photos of him working behind the cash register at a store in New Jersey. The images quickly made headlines as some people shamed the actor for his grocery gig.
Owens, who played Elvin Tibideaux on The Cosby Show from 1985 to 1992, explained on Good Morning America that he took the job at Trader Joe’s because he wanted something with more “flexibility.” He has since quit and picked up acting again, including a recurring role on Tyler Perry’s OWN drama, The Haves and the Have Nots.
“You can’t count on offers forever. You got to be back contending like everyone else, which is what I want,” Owens told Us Weekly in November 2018. “The work has been constant one way or another. … Every time I kind of think [the attention is] going away, I realize it’s still there. The recognition on the street is still there everywhere I go.”