Actress Seyi Omooba has been dropped from an upcoming tour of musical The Color Purple after it emerged that she said homosexuality “isn’t right” in a 2014 Facebook post.
The Facebook post went viral when Hamilton star Aaron Lee shared a screenshot on Twitter and said she owed an explanation to the LGBT+ community, as she was set to play a queer character in The Color Purple.
The companies producing the show, Leicester Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome, announced this evening that they had axed Omooba from the production after the post resulted in “widely expressed” concerns about her casting.
“Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production.”
– Joint statement from Leicester Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome
“Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production,” the joint statement said. “This decision was supported by the Authors and Theatrical Rights Worldwide.
“The audition process, as ever, was conducted professionally and rigorously, led by an exceptional casting director with actors who are evaluated on what they present in the audition room.
“We do not operate a social media screening process in the casting of actors,” they finished.
Seyi Omooba was set to play queer character Celie in The Color Purple
Omooba was set to play the lead role of Celie in the musical production of The Color Purple, which is based on the Pulitzer prize winning novel by Alice Walker.
In The Color Purple, Celie is an abuse survivor who learns how to be confident and independent after meeting Shug, a woman who she develops an intimate and sexual relationship with.
Omooba’s historic Facebook post drew huge attention when it was shared on Twitter this week.
In the post, Omooba said that she does not believe people “can be born gay.”
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“I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean its [sic] right.”
– Seyi Omooba
She continued: “I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean its [sic] right.”
When Lee’s screenshot was shared widely, Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome responded and distanced themselves from Omooba’s views. They also said that they would investigate the situation further.
Omooba’s ‘antiquated views are wrong’
A number of LGBT+ actors and allies came forward to criticise Omooba for playing an LGBT+ character while holding anti-gay views.
Holby City actress Amy Lennox wrote in a post: “What a shame – I was excited to see this but will NOT be buying a ticket if a BIGOT is playing the role …. unbelievable that someone in our industry (where our LGBTQ community is a fundamental presence/life force in our art )can have such an insular view on LOVE”
“Her antiquated views are wrong, not my sexuality. She doesn’t get to ‘believe’ in me. I’m not Santa. I exist, I’m gay, and I feel and am more right than ever.”
– Charlotte E Yorke
Performer Charlotte E Yorke wrote in a Twitter thread: “Her antiquated views are wrong, not my sexuality. She doesn’t get to ‘believe’ in me. I’m not Santa. I exist, I’m gay, and I feel and am more right than ever.”
She added: “If your views truly have changed – we are here with open arms and willing to educate you on what it is to be human and not to live life through a book. But you have to acknowledge that you are not the person to tell this intricate and complicated story of love and acceptance because it belongs in the hands of someone who can inspire the community around them. Not shame them.”
The Color Purple is due to run from July 16 to July 20.