The Broadway musical version of The Color Purple, based on the 1982 book by Alice Walker (and which was turned into a feature film by Steven Spielberg in 1985), is coming to the Birmingham Hippodrome in July 2019 as part of a co-production with Leicester’s Curve theater. But it’s an anti-gay post that currently has people discussing the show, following the revelation that five years ago, in 2014, actress Oluwaseyi “Seyi” Omooba had some controversial things to say about homosexuality. She has since been fired from The Color Purple in the UK.
Omooba was going to play Celie in the musical, who is herself one of the story’s queer characters. That’s what led Hamilton star Aaron Lee Lambert to tweet out the anti-gay post from his own account and confront her about the controversial Facebook rant, asking, “Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite?”
@Seyiomooba Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite? Seeing as you’ve now been announced to be playing an LGBTQ character, I think you owe your LGBTQ peers an explanation. Immediately. pic.twitter.com/GK2xbzZYgy
— Aaron Lee Lambert (@aleelambert) March 15, 2019
In the 2014 anti-gay post at issue, Omooba says, “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. I do believe everyone sins and falls into temptation but it’s by the asking of forgiveness, repentance and the grace of God that we overcome and live how God ordained us too [sic].”
It’s also worth mentioning that her father, Ade Omooba, is a pastor who — despite being awarded an MBE title — advocates gay conversion therapy and has reportedly been “involved in a string of anti-LGBTQ campaigns.”
Following Lambert’s sharing of the anti-gay post, the Birmingham Hippodrome immediately responded that “The views shared in this post do not in any way reflect [their] views,” and that it would be “continuing to investigate” the matter.
On March 22, the theater revealed Oluwaseyi Omooba had been fired from The Color Purple, and her role of Celie will be recast. Here’s part of the theaters’ statement:
The comments made by Seyi in that post have caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press. Following careful reflection, it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production. 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.
No word yet on who could be recast in the role.
Do you think it’s appropriate that Oluwaseyi Omooba was fired from The Color Purple due to her past anti-gay post?
Featured image by Dave Benett / Getty Images