Anti-LGBTQ Actress Who Lost Tribunal Case Ordered to Pay Legal Fees

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday March 31, 2021

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

The actress who sued after being fired from a London production of "The Color Purple" for anti-LGBTQ social media posts has been ordered to pay the equivalent to $413,000 in legal costs, reports UK newspaper the Independent.

Oluwaseyi "Seyi" Omooba, 26, was cast in the production by Curve Theater in Leicester, England, but was dropped by the theater - and talent agency - following the revelation of old a social media post in which she attacked the LGBTQ community.

The role Omooba had been cast for 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 lost her case before an employment tribunal, in which she had claimed damage to her career and emotional distress. Now, the Independent reports, she has been "ordered to pay the theater's legal costs of nearly £260,000, and her former agency's bill of around £54,000," sums that translate to about $358,000 and $74,000, respectively, and total more than £300,000.

"In a joint statement, Curve chief executive Chris Stafford and artistic director Nikolai Foster said: 'We have always felt the case lacked any merit from the outset, but Seyi Omooba and her legal team continued to disregard our pleadings and chose to take our theater to court irrespective of the facts,' " the Independent article said.

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 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 an anti-LGBTQ post from 2014 had 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," there is no financial loss because she would not have played the part," and noted that "there is no loss of opportunity to enhance her reputation by performing, because she would not have played the part."

The post in question appeared at Omooba's Facebook page and stated, "I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right," continuing on to quote from the Bible and stating, "I am tired of lukewarm Christianity."

After Omooba was cast in the role of Cecile, actor Aaron Lee Lambert - known for his role in "Hamilton" - shared the post on Twitter, asking Omooba whether she stood by it.

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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