Hip-hop star Nicki Minaj has made good on her promise to donate $25,000 (Dh91,812) to The Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens after he was photographed — and job-shamed online — while working at a Trader Joe’s store last month.
And Owens paid it forward.
The actor, best known for playing optimist Elvin Tibideaux, donated the money to the Actors Fund in memory of screen and stage veteran Earle Hyman, who played Cliff Huxtable’s father, Russell, on the 1980s sitcom.
Hyman, who died in 2017, “lived his last many years and died at the Actors Home, funded and run by the Actors Fund,” Owens said in a statement to The Times on Wednesday.
“I am extremely grateful to Nicki Minaj for enabling struggling actors to continue pursuing their dreams,” Owens, 57, said.
“I’m happy to be a part of a great cause,” Minaj said in a statement issued through Owens’ team. “I wish Geoffrey much success and want him to know how loved he is. Rest in Peace to Earle Hyman.”
The Actors Fund will use the donation to “provide essential programmes and services to thousands of entertainment and performing arts professionals in need across the country,” according to Brian Stokes Mitchell, chairman of the Actors Fund.
Mitchell also said he was “greatly humbled and truly inspired that Geoffrey and Nicki would take action to help their colleagues when they need it most.”
Owens, who has previously appeared on The Affair and Elementary, has been privy to that struggle. Notably, he was criticised late last month after a photo of him working as a cashier at a New Jersey Trader Joe’s went viral.
The actor, who has also taught classes at Yale University, was trolled for having the side gig, which he maintained for about 15 months and quit after the subsequent publicity blitz.
But many in Hollywood came to his defence, including actors Terry Crews, Blair Underwood, actress Patricia Heaton and producers Judd Apatow and Tyler Perry.
Perry also made good on a promise of his own: He cast Owens in his OWN crime series, The Haves and Have Nots, after the photo caused such a commotion.
Owens will also guest star on NCIS: New Orleans, according to TMZ.
Appearing on Good Morning America earlier this month, the actor said he hasn’t had an acting job that lasted more than 10 weeks in 26 years, but jobs like his Trader Joe’s gig allowed him the flexibility to go on auditions and pick up other means of employment.