Fired Actress, Suing Theater, Had 'Red Line' Against Playing LGBTQ... and Her Character Was Gay

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday February 5, 2021

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

Actress Oluwaseyi Omooba "Seyi" Omooba had a personal policy against playing LGBTQ characters - which is perhaps not surprising, given anti-gay comments she posted to social media in 2014. But the actress is suing for having been fired over those homophobic posts... even though the role she was cast to play was that of a lesbian.

The play in question was the musical stage version of "The Color Purple," which Leicester Curve Theatre was preparing to produce when Omooba was cast in the role of Celie in 2019.

A British employment tribunal heard about how Omooba never told the play's producers about her policy against playing gay, the BBC reports.

The BBC article said the tribunal heard that Omooba "had previously told her agents, Michael Garrett Associates Ltd (Global Artists), she would not play a gay role or do sexually explicit scenes.

"However, she said she did not tell the play's directors of the stance as she did not understand the character to be lesbian," the BBC added.

In the novel it's perfectly clear that Celie - the role Omooba had been cast for - finds love with another woman. That carries through in the play, as well, the BBC noted, writing, "The character is often shown as having a lesbian sexual orientation - the intended interpretation for the show."

Omooba "admitted she had not read the full script before accepting the lead role in January 2019, but 'probably' would have done by the time rehearsals began in May," the BBC article explained.

"We've agreed you had a red line, your position was you wouldn't play Celie if she was to be played as a lesbian," said Tom Coghlin, the attorney representing the theater, said to the actress, "and you didn't share it with the producers, you kept it secret."

As reported at EDGE at the time, Omooba had declared on social media that rights for sexual minorities, while legal, were not "right."

She also denied that LGTBQ people are born with their innate sexual orientations.

Omooba lost the job after another actor, "Hamilton"'s Aaron Lee Lambert, shared one of her 2014 posts at Twitter and called her out over it.

"The 26-year-old actress has brought a claim of about £128,000 [more than $175,000] against the theatre and her former agents on the grounds of religious discrimination and breach of contract," the BBC summarized. "But lawyers representing the venue say the dismissal about which she complains is over a role she would have refused to play anyway."

At that time the suit was filed, in 2019, Omooba related that she lost the job when she refused to "retract and apologize" for her anti-LGBTQ posts

"I really wanted the role but what they wanted me to do was completely against my faith," she said. "I did not want to lie just to keep a job."

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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