Geoffrey Owens, an actor from The Cosby Show, has thanked supporters after photos of him working as a cashier at Trader Joe’s were mocked online.
A customer’s snapshots of Owens bagging groceries in New Jersey were published by the Daily Mail and Fox News, leading to accusations of “job-shaming”.
Actors and celebrities rushed to defend the actor, which Owens told ABC was “really overwhelming, in a good way”.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry tweeted a job offer to him after the interview aired.
“I feel like I’m more of a celebrity now then I’ve ever been. I’m more of a celebrity now then when I was actually a celebrity,” Owens told Good Morning America on Tuesday.
Last Thursday, just before the US Labor Day holiday, the Mail Online posted an article with the headline: “From learning lines to serving the long line!”
On social media, people said they found the article’s details insulting, and claimed the publication was “job-shaming” Owens for making an honest living.
Harry Potter actor Chris Rankin was among his defenders, tweeting that he had worked in a kitchen after the movie franchise came to an end.
Owens played Elvin Tibideaux, the son-in-law of Bill Cosby’s character, during the final five seasons of The Cosby Show which aired between 1985 and 1992.
“I was really devastated [about the reporting of his job]. But the period of devastation was so short,” he said, describing the messages of support he had received from all over the world.
Owens – who has worked on TV shows It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and That’s So Raven – said he had worked at Trader Joe’s in Clifton, New Jersey for 15 months.
He added that he had been recognised by shoppers several times previously.
Wearing his Trader Joe’s name tag, he told the interviewer that he hoped people would now rethink “the honour of the working person and the dignity of work”.
“There is no job that is better than another job. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume and on paper, but actually it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”
After the interview was broadcast on Tuesday, Tyler Perry tweeted the apparent job offer to Owens, urging him to turn up for the start of filming of the latest season of a TV series that airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).