Seyi Omooba, actor fired for anti-gay remark, ordered to pay £300,000 legal costs

Actor sued for religious discrimination after being dropped from a theatre production of The Color Purple, over an anti-gay remark she made when she was a teenager

Roisin O'Connor
Wednesday 31 March 2021 09:45 BST
Semi Omooba has been ordered to pay legal costs after losing an employment tribunal against the Curve theatre
Semi Omooba has been ordered to pay legal costs after losing an employment tribunal against the Curve theatre

Actor Seyi Omooba has been told to pay £300,000 in legal costs after losing a court battle over her sacking from a production of The Color Purple.

Omooba claimed she was fired from the show at The Curve Theatre in Leicester in 2019 and shut out by her agency, Global Artists, after it emerged that she had made an anti-gay remark on social media.

The 26-year-old, who is Christian, had written on Facebook: “I do not believe homosexuality is right.”

The comment was posted when Omooba was a teenager.

It was resurfaced by Hamilton star Aaron Lee Lambert, who accused her of hypocrisy for taking on the role of Celie in The Color Purple.

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“Do you still stand by this post?” Lambert tweeted in March 2019. “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.”

Omooba, who denied that Celie is a lesbian character, said the theatre and her agents asked her to apologise but she refused.

In February, an employment tribunal rejected her claim for religious discrimination. This week, she was ordered to pay the theatre’s legal costs of nearly £260,000, and her former agency’s bill of around £54,000, The Times reports.

Her lawyers said she would fight on.

In a joint statement, Curve chief executive Chris Stafford and artistic director Nikolai Foster said: “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.”

They said the tribunal had been “used as part of a wider campaign orchestrated by Christian Concern,” which resulted in “significant human and financial cost”.

The statement continues: “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.”

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