An actress set to star in a revival of The Color Purple is under fire today for anti-LGBTQA+ comments she made on social media in the past.
Actress, Seyi Omooba post a lengthy statement on her Facebook page in 2014 which included, “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 its [sic] right.”
Omooba is set to play the lead role of Celie in the musical. Celie is an abuse survivor who eventually learns how to be confident and independent after meeting Shug, a woman with whom she develops an intimate, sexual relationship.
Her comments have created quite the uproar in the U.K.
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 LGBTQA+ community is a fundamental presence/life force in our art )can have such an insular view on LOVE”
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.”
It should be noted that Omooba is the daughter of pastor Ade Omooba, co-founder the anti-LGBT pressure group Christian Concern, which supports the practice of so-called gay conversion therapy.
While the actress hasn’t responded to the backlash, the theatre company heading The Color Purple did release a brief statement.
“The views expressed in the historic social media post by a member of Curve and Brum Hippodrome’s The Color Purple cast in no way reflect those held by either of our theatres. We will be looking into the matter and will issue a full response in due course,” the statement read.
There is a lot to unpack here. But after looking at a lot of the information, it’s my opinion that Omooba needs to depart the production. While the post is five years old and her views could have evolved, it should be noted that she hasn’t come out with any apology or explanation in the three days since the controversy erupted. Also, according to her fellow cast member of the recent Little Shop of Horrors revival, Omooba was the only cast member to decline to take part in a video for the London Pride parade and went as far as to hide in the dressing room until filming was over. So I’m willing to bet her thoughts and views on LGBTQA+ people and their rights haven’t changed much.
I could go through the laundry list of items that was disprove Omooba’s stance of using Bibal verses to defend her positions, but that’s been done many times before. In fact, this clip of The West Wing does a pretty good job.
Omooba is free to believe what she wants and make whatever opinions public, but having an anti-Gay rights person portraying an LGBTQA+ role is too tough a pill to swallow for me. I would feel the same about a white supremacist playing Atticus Finch or a pro-Nazi support playing Anne Frank. It just doesn’t work and I would be concerned on how they might portray the role.
Also, this is the wrong kind of publicity and distraction for this theatre. Given that there are plenty of other actresses who could be amazing in this role, it should be an easy decision for the theatre. I also wouldn’t have a problem if this killed Omooba’s career. Then she could go work for her father’s Christian Concern, where her antiquated views would be most welcome.