Actor sues theatre for firing her over homophobic comments

Actor Oluwaseyi Omooba who stepped down from appearing in a British production of the musical The Color Purple after a series of comments she had previously made on social media were deemed homophobic, is now suing the theatre that was staging the production.

Omooba stepped down from performing in a production of The Color Purple in March, following previous anti-gay comments she’d made coming to light. The actor was set to play the lead character of Celie – who falls in love with another female character in the story.

When Omooba was announced to be taking on the lead role in the production which will play at Leister’s Curve Theatre and the Birmingham Hippodrome, actors who had previously worked with her questioned the casting choice.

A Facebook post published by Omooba five years ago outlined her stance against homosexuality. “I do not believe you can be born gay and I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean it’s right.” she wrote.

Appearing on The Bolt Report earlier this week, Omooba said she had been unfairly characterised saying she loves gay people and their creativity, she also argues that she didn’t see Celie as a gay character, although the character has a relationship with another woman.

“I love them” Omooba said about her attitude towards gay people. “My attitude is that they’re amazing, they’re wonderful people just like me.”

Omooba said she had originally auditioned for a different role in the production, but producers had encouraged her to take on the bigger part of Celie.

“They offered me the role of Celie, I was definitely shocked.” Omooba said, revealing that she’d spent a week praying before agreeing to take on the role.

The actor said she prayed for a week because she wasn’t sure she good enough to pull off the role, but she said that after she read the book by Alice Walker she realised that the character had many different attributes.

‘I realised there is so much more to Celie, she’s a black woman, I think it’s in Georgia, who suffers racism, who suffers abuse from her father, so much happens to Celie, and I didn’t just want to focus on – not even focus – it wasn’t about sexuality or lesbianism for me, the character of Celie, or the story of Celie.

“Yes, she has a relationship with a woman, but as a whole The Color Purple and the role of Celie, and her story, isn’t about sexuality, it’s about the struggle of a black woman who is suffering racism, and is going through so much trying to navigate through life and she’s fourteen when she’s abused and that sense of innocence, she’s felt ugly since such a young age – that’s my perception and interpretation of the role of Celie.”

Omooba said there are many interpretations about what the book, film and musical are about. Omooba said just because the character has a relationship with a woman doesn’t mean the character is a lesbian.

“She find comfort and solace in a woman – yes, that doesn’t label her as a lesbian and doesn’t label the whole show as just based about sexuality.” Omooba said.

Host Andrew Bolt challenged Omooba saying her responses seemed to indicate that she did have a problem with taking on a gay role, and did indeed have a problem with gay people, a suggestion the actor denied.

“I don’t have a problem with them at all. I’ve worked with people who are gay, lesbian, and they’re amazing. We get on really well, we might not agree.. we might might agree and disagree on so many different things, but we still get on, I don’t have a problem with them at all.”

Omooba said she could not agree to the theatre’s request for her to put out a statement retracting her comments because it would have been retracting her belief in God.

“As a Christian I can’t do that. I know the love of God and he’s amazing.” Omooba said, saying she had not been able to get any work since the controversy, and had not been able to find a new agent to represent her.  The actor said she hoped the court case would rule in favour of her Christian beliefs.

OIP Staff