Entertainment & Arts

Seyi Omooba: Actress to sue theatre after dismissal

Seyi Omooba Image copyright Getty Images

A Christian actress who lost her lead role in the stage production of The Color Purple after saying homosexuality was not "right" says she is planning to sue both the theatre and her former agents.

Seyi Omooba will take the Curve Theatre in Leicester and Global Artists to court for breach of contract and religious discrimination.

Omooba, who had been due to play the lead role of Celie in the musical, made the assertion in a 2014 Facebook post that resurfaced in March.

The Christian Legal Centre confirmed to the BBC on Monday they will back her case, however the producers say they are so far unaware of any legal action.

In the offending post, the Londoner said she did "not believe you can be born gay", which led to the theatre company severing ties with her.

Now she believes she has been hounded out of her profession.

"On all my social media I always post stuff about God or scriptures," she explained in a YouTube video.

"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.

"I still can't believe it today, there was this massive opportunity - something that I never thought I would ever even achieve - and I remember the casting director telling me 'be very careful about where you go next because you have a very raw talent'."

A screen grab of the post was re-circulated by another actor after she was cast as Celie - an abused wife who has an intimate relationship with a female singer - in the stage adaptation of Alice Walker's 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

"Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite?" wrote Hamilton cast member Aaron Lee Lambert.

"Seeing as you've now been announced to be playing an LGBTQ character, I think you owe your LGBTQ peers an explanation."

'Taken aback'

Omooba said she was shocked to discover a Bible reference posted years ago could leave her career in tatters.

"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."

At the time the show's producers wrote in a statement: "Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production."

Curve's chief executive Chris Stafford and artistic director Nikolai Foster told the BBC on Monday they stand by the statement but they had "not received any notice of legal action".

Omooba claims as well as being dropped by the theatre she has also been dumped by her agent in light of the incident.

"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."

The BBC has asked the Global Artists agency for a comment.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Related Topics

More on this story