Actress Seyi Omooba, fired from a British revival of The Color Purple: The Musical over homophobic remarks, is facing £300,000 in legal fees.
The BBC reports that a UK court has ordered Omooba to pay £53,839 to her former agency and £259,356 to Curve, the theatre in Leicester where The Color Purple was scheduled to run. The production was canceled following the negative fallout from Omooba’s dismissal.
“We have always felt the case lacked any merit from the outset, but Seyi Omooba and her legal team continued to disregard our pleadings and chose to take our theatre to court irrespective of the facts,” Curve said in a statement. “Whilst we welcome this news, we would like to reiterate we do not condone any negativity aimed at Seyi Omooba and we respectfully ask anyone in support of Curve to remain kind and respectful.”
The production would have opened in 2019 with Omooba in the role of Celie, the lesbian lead of The Color Purple. Following the announcement of her casting, actor Aaron Lee Lambert uncovered tweets from 2014 in which Omooba condemned homosexuality.
After six days of social media backlash, Curve offered to pay out Omooba’s full salary and recast the role. She refused, instead choosing to sue for wrongful termination.
@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 court, Omooba said she didn’t realize the character of Celie was lesbian, despite reading the original novel upon which the musical is based and seeing Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film version starring Whoopi Goldberg. While the film version does downplay Celie’s lesbianism, the book is explicit in describing it.
The tribunal in her wrongful termination suit declared Omooba had “not done her homework or been paying attention, and that she still thought of the work in the frame of the Spielberg film.”
Lawyers for Omooba said they will appeal the decision.