"I wouldn't feel comfortable with someone giving me a job because this happened," he said, adding that he would be open to offers to audition. "I want to get a job because I'm the right person for that job."
Owens, who played son-in-law Elvin Tibideaux to Bill Cosby's character on the sitcom, said that he believes it was a form of job shaming when news outlets and social media brought attention to his second job working at a grocery store. The woman who first posted the photos of him on the job seemed shocked about where Owens was working, the Associated Press reports.
'Cosby Show' actor Geoffrey Owens spotted bagging groceries at NJ Trader Joe's https://t.co/bhkxWYa9gq— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 31, 2018
"I was really devastated," Owens said of the initial reporting. "But the period of devastation was so short because, so shortly after that, my wife and I started to read these responses of support from all over the world, so the shame period didn't last very long."
After the reports started circulating, fellow actors such as Patricia Heaton came to Owens' defense, sharing their own experience of working other jobs while acting. Owens, who hasn't had an acting job that lasted longer than a few months since The Cosby Show, said he took the job to help support his family.
"I'd been teaching, acting, directing for 30-plus years, but it got to a point where it just didn't add up enough. You gotta do what you gotta do," he said.
He'd been at the store for 15 months before the controversy.
"People recognized me every day and they were very, very cool about it," he said.
While he knows the conversation about him specifically will pass, Owens hopes the larger conversation about the value of hard work will leave a lasting impact.
"There's no job that's better than another job," he said. "Every job is worthwhile and valuable, and if we have a re-thinking about that because of what's happened to me, that would be great."
Owens said the last thing he wants anyone to take away from the conversation is pity for him.
"I've had a great life. I've had a great career. I've had a career that most actors would die for," he said. "No one has to feel sorry for me. I'm doing fine."