Anti-LGBTQ Actress Dropped from 'Color Purple' Production Loses Tribunal

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday February 17, 2021

Oluwaseyi 'Seyi' Omooba
Oluwaseyi 'Seyi' Omooba  (Source:Oluwaseyi Omooba/Twitter)

Actress Oluwaseyi "Seyi" Omooba lost her case before an employment tribunal in which she had claimed damage to her career and emotional distress after being fired from a stage production of "The Color Purple," reports UK newspaper The Telegraph.

Omooba had been cast in the production by Curve Theater in Leicester, England, but was dropped by the theater - and also by her talent agency - following the revelation of old social media posts in which she attacked the LGBTQ community.

The role Omooba had been cast in was that of Celie, who is portrayed in the stage play - as in the original novel - as finding love with another woman.

As previously reported at EDGE, Omooba had brought the case even though she had told her agent that she had a "red line" against playing LGBTQ characters - a policy she had neglected to mention to the play's producers.

The BBC reported on the outcome, reporting that the tribunal was informed about how Omooba "had been 'unconditionally' offered her full salary for the role by the theatre" after being dropped from the production, "but refused to invoice the trust, instead bringing legal action on the grounds she had suffered extensive career damage for espousing her religious beliefs."

The tribunal rejected Omooba's claims, ruling that the theater had not dropped Omooba to punish her for her views, but "to save the production" from "the effect of the adverse publicity" that her 2014 post generated.

Omooba had admitted not having read the entire script before taking the role. The tribunal, the BBC said, found that Omooba "had taken part in a similar production, she had the script, and knowing that a lesbian relationship was at least one interpretation, she should have considered much earlier whether a red line was to be crossed."

As for claims of financial damages and emotional distress, the tribunal ruled that "There is no financial loss because she would not have played the part," and also noted that "There is no loss of opportunity to enhance her reputation by performing, because she would not have played the part."

Moreover, the tribunal ruled, "If there is damage to her reputation, it was not caused by being dropped from the production but by an unconnected person's tweeting... of her Facebook post and the outcry resulting from that," the BBC reported.

The Telegraph recalled that "In 2019, Hamilton actor Aaron Lee Lambert shared a screenshot of Omooba's Facebook post from 2014, in which she said: 'I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right'," the Telegraph recalled, "adding 'Christians, we need to step up and love but also tell the truth of God's word. I am tired of lukewarm Christianity.'

"Lambert asked whether the actress stood by her post, given her casting as "an LGBTQ character.' "

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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