The woman who took a photo of “Cosby Show” actor Geoffrey Owens is apologizing, saying she didn’t mean to embarrass someone she used to look up to when she was younger.
“I don’t know why I snuck a picture,” Karma Lawrence, 50, told NJ.com. “I figured everybody does it. I don’t know what possessed me. I just did it. I didn’t even think about it. I just kind of did it on impulse and it was a bad impulse.”
Lawrence explained she recalled watching “The Cosby Show” when she was younger, and, in her surprise, snuck a picture as she was cashing out at her local grocery store.
“When I saw him working there I thought maybe because of everything with Bill Cosby that his residuals got cut,” she explained. “And people have to take a normal job. But I didn’t think anything bad about it. I work a normal job."
Owens had actually been working at the store for 15 months, and later said on “Good Morning America” that he has been recognized almost daily by shoppers.
“I didn’t advertise that I was at Trader Joe's, not because I was ashamed of it,” he said, “but because I didn’t want the entertainment community to decide, ’He’s doing that, he's not pursuing acting anymore.’”
But, inspired by all the paparazzi shots she sees online, Lawrence sent the photo to celebrity websites and the situation got out of hand.
She began to get hate mail to her own social media accounts from both normal people and celebrities, accusing her of “job shaming.”
Even the SAG-AFTRA Foundation emphasized that many actors take day jobs to support their families.
“So much hate. So much nastiness. Oh, it’s been terrible,” Lawrence said. “They write Karma’s a b****. It’s bad.”
She said she didn’t realize she had gone viral until much later, and cried for half an hour when she began reading the headlines.
“It wasn’t malicious,” she said. “I actually wanted to go up to him and say something, but I thought, you might embarrass him. But then I did something that actually embarrassed him more. I didn’t go with my first instinct, and I should’ve.”
While Owens said on “Good Morning America” that he was originally “devastated" when the news of his day job came out, he is happy for “all the amazing support” the acting community has since given him.
Owens no longer works at the Trader Joe’s due to all the publicity, but the grocery chain says they would welcome him back if he ever wished to return.