Curve Leicester’s Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster and Birmingham Hippodrome’s Fiona Allan have stated that Seyi Omooba, due to play Celie in the theatres’ forthcoming co-production of The Color Purple, will no longer be involved in the show. The decision follows the recent controversy surrounding comments made on Facebook by Omooba in 2014 in which the actress said she did not believe homosexuality was right.
Omooba was due to lead the cast in the role of heroine Celie, a character repeatedly raped by her father who eventually goes to discover some self-worth via her love for another woman.
However, just a week ago a social media post that Omooba had written in 2014 was discovered in which she wrote: “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 is right.”
Initially the Curve and Hippodrome pointed out that the matter would be looked into but that they recognised the comments were made in an “historic social media post”, but the debate still continued on platforms like Twitter with many commentators suggesting it was hugely inappropriate that an artist with such views should play a lesbian character.
Today Stafford, Foster and Allan acknowledged that Omooba’s post had “caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press”.
They continued: “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 further comment will be made at this time.”
The events have begun a whole other debate about the practicalities of performers’ social media history being screened as part of the audition process.
@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