Geoffrey Owens, the actor who played Elvin on "The Cosby Show," is speaking up after being called out for bagging groceries at Trader Joe's. USA TODAY


As young men, "Cosby Show" actor Geoffrey Owens and "Happy Days" star Henry Winkler had a lot in common. They both went to Yale, they aspired to be actors and they both got jobs on popular TV shows.

"And then our careers took another turn," Owens said while presenting with Winkler onstage at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation's Patron of the Artists Awards Thursday night. 

Owens, 57, was recently called out on social media for working at Trader Joe's. Winkler, 73, just received his first Emmy. 

More: Celebs defend former 'Cosby Show' actor Geoffrey Owens after Trader Joe's job shaming

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Owens used his public shaming to send a message to other struggling actors: They're not alone and there is help available.

"The vast majority of actors, as you know, work one maybe even two day jobs while pursuing parts," he said. "What was good (about my viral photo) was the flood of support that I received from people all over the world. It was astonishing. And right in the middle of that flood was support from the SAG-AFTRA Foundation," he said. 

He and Winkler explained how that the nonprofit gives $500,000, anonymously, to actors who could use the help.

"I’m ashamed to admit it but until recently, I didn’t even know about it," said Owens. 

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