Aspiring West End actress Seyi Omooba has been left with egg on her face after being fired from a 2019 production of The Colour Purple at Leicester’s Curve Theatre after anti-LGBTQI comments she made on social media in 2014 were bought to the attention of producers.
In the offending post which resurfaced last March, Omooba said she did “not believe you can be born gay.”
“I was quite taken aback, I was like ‘wow, people really think I hate them?'” said Omooba. “People were calling me ‘homophobic’ and then I started getting calls from the producers saying something like I should retract the statement or what I posted or say sorry for what I posted.”
However, the plot thickened, when the actress lashed out saying she would have never accepted the lead role of Celie in The Colour Purple in the first place had she known the character was a lesbian.
Now, Omooba is suing both the Leicester Theatre Trust and her agents Michael Garrett Associates Ltd for around £128,000 ($230,000 Australian) following her dismissal, claiming it was a breach of contract and on the grounds of religious discrimination.
The organisation has said that the case will “expose the mechanisms of censorship at the heart of the theatre industry” adding “any dissenting views against LGBT+ ideology, especially Christian beliefs, are currently incompatible with a theatrical career.”
The Colour Purple’s Lesbian Character
It is widely accepted that the character of Celie, as she appeared in the original novel written by Alice Walker released 1982, was a lesbian. Set in 1930, the story centres on Celie as she develops a close sexual relationship with the female blues and jazz singer, Shug.
Yet representatives of Omooba argued that the original work of fiction was not the “best-known interpretation” of The Colour Purple. Instead referring to the 1985 film adaption by director Steven Spielberg, saying the “lesbian theme is not present at all” in the film, and the one kiss between female characters in the film could be “interpreted in all sorts of ways.”
Perhaps Omooba should have done her research, with a number of esteemed performers quick to point out the hypocrisy of the situation. Among those was Hamilton cast member Aaron Lee Lambert, who asked “Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite? Seeing as you’ve now been announced to be playing an LGBTQ character, I think you owe your LGBTQ peers an explanation.”
In light of the incident Omooba claims as well as being dropped by the theatre she has also been dumped by her agent.
“I didn’t think it would get this far, in terms of termination, in terms of me losing an agent. I’ve been trying to email agents, trying to get work and it’s just no response… I didn’t think it would escalate to this but now it has, and I need to deal with it.”