'Purple' Panic

Fired, homophobic ‘Color Purple’ actress sues; claims she’d never play a gay character

Seyi Oomba. Via YouTube

Actress Seyi Oomba, who made headlines after she was fired from a UK revival of the musical The Color Purple, has landed herself in the news again. Oomba has launched a wrongful termination lawsuit against the theatre, and now claims she didn’t realize her character was a lesbian. She further claims that the publicity surrounding her firing has damaged her career.

Oomba originally landed the leading role of Celie in The Color Purple at Leicester’s Curve Theatre in 2019. Producers for the musical discharged her not long after the announcement that she’d won the role, citing several homophobic social media posts Oomba made in 2014.

“I do not believe you can be born gay, and I don’t believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal it doesn’t make it right,” Oomba posted to Facebook.

PinkNews now reports that Oomba has launched a £128,000 lawsuit against the producers, claiming wrongful termination. She is being repped by the activist group Christian Concern, which has vowed to “expose the mechanisms of censorship at the heart of the theatre industry.”

“Any dissenting views against LGBT+ ideology, especially Christian beliefs, are currently incompatible with a theatrical career,” the group added in a statement.

Related: Homophobic actress Seyi Omooba dropped from upcoming production of ‘The Color Purple’

Filings for the lawsuit also reveal that Oomba had previously told her agents she would never play a gay character. Lawyers for the actress have further stated that the actress did not understand Celie to be a lesbian, despite the play and source novel depicting her as such.

“It is in no way obvious and was never made clear to the claimant that she was expected to play a lesbian character,” Pavel Stoilov, Oomba’s lawyer said. “She was never asked explicitly to play this character as a lesbian.”

Tom Coghlin, the lawyer for the Leichester Theatre Trust, has disputed that claim.

“The role she complains about being dismissed from is one that she would have refused to play in any event,” Coghlin said in court on February 1. “Her choice was to resign or be dismissed, and she chose to be dismissed.” He further characterized her views on homosexuality as a “repudiatory breach of contract,” given that she would have to play a lesbian.

The case remains ongoing. The controversy around Oomba’s casting emerged in 2019. Actor Aaron Lee Lambert brought her homophobic 2014 post to light via Twitter.

Following the backlash to Oomba’s remarks, producers for The Color Purple discharged the actress. At the time, Oomba denied the characterization of her remarks as homophobic.