A British stage actress is suing a theater she once worked for and her former agents after she was fired from the play The Color Purple over an old Facebook post that critics have condemned as “homophobic.”
Seyi Omooba was cast in the role of Celie — a character who has a relationship with another woman — in the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which was set to run at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, England and the Birmingham Hippodrome.
But after she took the role, Omooba was taken to task by Hamilton star Aaron Lee Lambert over a Facebook post she made in September 2014.
In the post, Omooba, the daughter of a pastor who co-founded Christian Concern, an organization that espouses traditional moral values based on the Bible and has spoken out against LGBTQ rights, urged Christians to “tell the truth” about homosexuality, reports The Independent.
“It is clearly evident in I Corinthians vi, 9-11 what the Bible says on this matter. I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexual practice is right,” Omooba wrote, accusing Christians who are accepting of homosexuality of “twist[ing] the word of God.”
Lambert confronted Omooba, writing: “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.”
Omooba, who denies that Celie is a lesbian character, claims the theater and her agents asked her to apologize, but she refused. She told BBC News that she was “taken aback” by the accusations of homophobia, which began to multiply on social media.
In response, Curve Theatre and the Hippodrome released a joint statement saying that Omooba’s comments “have caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press,” and that the actress would no longer be involved with the production, according to Metro.
After being fired from the show, Omooba was also dropped by her agents from Global Artists. She has since announced that she plans to sue for breach of contract and religious discrimination. She contends that casting directors and her agents knew about her Christian faith long before the 5-year-old Facebook post came to life.
“On all my social media I always post stuff about God or scriptures,” she explains in a YouTube video posted by Christian Concern. “They knew that I was Christian and they knew my stance on marriage, on my faith, on god… on many different things that are in the Bible.”
According to The Stage, Christian Legal Centre has claimed Curve offered to pay Omooba’s full wages in order to avoid a lawsuit, but she rejected the offer. Her legal team claims her agents dropped her without offering the necessary two months’ notice that she is entitled to under her contract with them.
Omooba says she’s since had difficulty finding work and believes she is being discriminated against because of her beliefs.
“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,” Omooba says in the Christian Concern video. “I didn’t think it would escalate to this but now it has, so now I need to deal with it.”