|Geoffrey Owens & Nicki Minaj|
By Erickka Sy Savané
At this point we all pretty much know the story of how former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens was working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey when a customer tried to work shame him. The world came to his defense, job offers came pouring in, including a 10-episode stint on the Haves and the Have Nots from Tyler Perry, and a whopping $25,000 gift from Nicki Minaj! Talk about things changing overnight. Obviously, his Trader Joe’s gig is history along with his $10 hour. So maybe that’s why he donated the $25,000 that Nicki gave him to charity. And while many people are applauding his generosity, some aren’t so happy. In fact, they’re calling him rude and ungrateful.
First, he didn’t donate it to just any charity (though it would be within his rights), he donated it to the Actor’s Fund. As an actress myself (not so much now), I can attest that this organization is a life saver. During my time in LA, when I was in-between TV commercial work, and struggling to make ends meet, the organization was there. They helped pay my rent, utilities and health care, in a way that allowed me and my family to stay afloat so that we could continue to pursue acting work. And they treated us with dignity. Not like something was wrong with us for falling on hard times. They have my FULL support and I WISH I could cut them a $25,000 check as a token of my appreciation. I suspect that Geoffrey has probably leaned on them as well, so this donation likely means a lot to him.
Geoffrey said in a statement:
“I would like to give this donation of 25k to the Actor’s Fund in memory of the late, great Earle Hyman
— who played Cosby’s father, ‘Russell’ on “The Cosby Show” — who
lived his last many years and died at the Actors’ Home, (funded and run
by the Actor’s Fund). I am extremely grateful to Nicki Minaj for
enabling struggling actors to continue pursuing their dreams.”
Now because I get around, I can personally attest to the blessing that the Actors’ Home is as well. Located in a residential area in Englewood, New Jersey, this place is the BUSINESS. It’s for men and women up there in age who dedicated the majority of their lives to the entertainment industry. I discovered the place years ago when a friend and I, he was an actor as well, would go there to entertain the old folks. They loved it and would pretty much entertain us with colorful stories of working in the entertainment industry. I’ll never forget one woman in her 80’s who used to work as a theater actress who never left her room without a full face of makeup. She was the epitome of glamour and showed that once a performer, always a performer. So yea, once again Geoffrey knows that this money is going to be put to great use!
Now for those who may feel it’s rude to give money that someone generously gives you. I get it. It almost feels like re-gifting at Christmas. Someone gives you something you don’t need and you give it to someone else. Honestly, we don’t know how different things would be had Geoffrey not gotten work following his stint at Trader Joes. Maybe he would have deposited the funds into his bank account, said thanks, and kept it moving. Fortunately, things turned out different. What makes Geoffrey not a shmuck in this case is that he never asked Nikki for the money. She chose to make a public declaration of her gift. (Which honestly, I find to be tacky. If you give, why do you have to let everyone know? Just call the man’s people and cut him a check…but maybe that’s just me because I grew up in a time before everything was a social media event). So be salty at him if you choose, but guess what? Even Nikki is positive.
She said in a statement:
“I’m happy to
be a part of a great cause. I wish Geoffrey much success and want him to
know how loved he is. Rest in Peace to Earle Hyman.”
See, all is well. Kudos to Nikki and Geoffrey because thanks to their generosity more actors will be given the opportunity to follow their dreams. With dignity.