Work It Like Geoffrey
I remember having a heated conversation with a younger cousin in her 20s. It was right before election day in 2016. She proudly announced that she wasn’t voting because, according to her, her vote didn’t matter anyway. She then proceeded to tell me that she was quitting her job and starting her own business venture; because it was the “only way in which she could keep her money in our community.” Her words, not mine. I was stunned because everyone in our family has always worked. Her mom, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles. Where was she getting this from? What had made her the authority regarding how the world works or about how ‘stupid’ older people are? Again, her words.
Actor Geoffrey Owens has been at the top of many minds since a news report job shaming him created a parade of support for him. In various interviews, the former Cosby show regular talked about how proud he was of having “honest work”. The entire situation made me reflect back on the conversation -turned argument- with my younger cousin.
What started as an attempt to embarrass the actor-turned-supermarket worker, backfired for the shamers. Celebrities took to social media to express their pride at a fellow actor for “finding a way” to feed his family. In fact, Owens’ dignity about the entire spectacle has become a lesson in humility for me. What may be lost though, on millennials like my younger cousin, is the mantra of working hard until you don’t have to work hard anymore. Too often, they take the easy way out and search for a quick fix at every turn.
The lesson to be learned here is that there is no substitute for hard work and paying your dues. This mantra, coupled with Owens’ humility has skyrocketed his presence from near obscurity back into the spotlight. Last week, he shot for roles on Tyler Perry’s, “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and on the CBS Drama, “NCIS.” But, Owens is not taking this resurgence of his career for granted. Recently, he told the New York Times, that this recent attention has created a welcome whirlwind and he has already started the work with Perry. He talked about taking a 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta, going directly to the Atlanta area studio and getting into hair and makeup..all before meeting Mr. Perry himself! Owens says he is looking forward to shooting more scenes on the show.
Owens is smart enough to take the offer seriously. He says he worked just as hard as he would have if he had auditioned for the part. He offers advice to others struggling to work in their passion saying, “Hang in there and do whatever you need to do to stay in touch with your craft.” Social media has made it so easy these days for people to become what they consider “influencers” that some millennials don’t see the importance of working in a regular job. I only hope that Owen’s humility and decision to do a hard day’s work proves to be a long-lasting lesson.