Nicki Minaj has given actor Geoffrey Owens $25,000, just as she promised she would, ET has learned. However, the Cosby Show alum won’t be keeping the money. It’s going to be donated to a charity near and dear to his heart.
“I would like to give this donation of 25K to the Actor’s Fund in memory of the late, great Earle Hyman, who lived his last many years and died at the Actors’ Home, (funded and run by the Actor’s Fund),” Owens told ET in a statement. “I am extremely grateful to Nicki Minaj for enabling struggling actors to continue pursuing their dreams."
For clarification, Hyman was also an actor who appeared on The Cosby Show as the titular star’s father, Russell. Brian Stokes Mitchell, chairman of the Actor's Fund, responded to the contribution with a statement.
“Bravo and Brava! Thank you to Geoffrey Owens for paying forward his gift from Nicki Minaj and making a very generous donation of $25,000 to our work,” he said. “I’m greatly humbled and truly inspired that Geoffrey and Nicki would take action to help their colleagues when they need it most. This donation will help us provide essential programs and services to thousands of entertainment and performing arts professionals in need across the country every year. It will help us continue to provide supportive services including The Actors Fund Home, a skilled nursing, assisted living and short-stay rehabilitation facility for professionals who, like the great actor Earle Hyman, have dedicated their lives to the arts—and where we will be dedicating a room in Earle’s honor thanks to this gift. It will also help support our ongoing social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, affordable housing, and secondary employment and training services. The staff of The Actors Fund take great pride in fostering stability and resiliency in the lives of everyone in performing arts and entertainment, and providing a safety net for them in times of need. We thank you, Geoffrey and Nicki.”
Minaj first announced that she’d be donating the funds to support Owens on her Beats 1 Queen Radio show soon after he was publicly shamed recently for working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey.
"Some people are on the internet and seeking attention, and he’s just the antithesis of that. So I felt like, 'Oh my god, could you imagine?'" Minaj explained to ET at the Daily Front Row Fashion Awards in NYC. "We all have done jobs like that and I just thought, 'What if that were me? Or a family member and they were minding their own business, working to feed their family and somebody tried to humiliate them?' I don’t like the way that feels."
Of course, Minaj wasn't the only one who was moved by Owens quietly working to earn a living between acting gigs. After the story first broke, Tyler Perry offered him a role on his OWN show, The Haves and Have Nots on Twitter, which he accepted.
Owens also booked an NCIS: New Orleans role on an upcoming episode in which he’ll be playing Commander Adams, an old friend of Dwayne Pride’s (Scott Bakula) who offers support at a key moment.
“For Commander Adams, we needed someone with compassion, competence and heart… That’s Geoffrey in a nutshell,” the show's executive producer, Christopher Silber, said in a statement. “An accomplished actor who seemed like the perfect fit to add to our extended repertory company. We’re lucky to have him on the show.”
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