The emergence of an old Facebook post in which she quoted the Bible to express her Christian beliefs led to Seyi Omooba, above, being sacked as a ‘homophobe’
As an up-and-coming actress, Seyi Omooba was overjoyed to be given the lead role in a stage version of The Color Purple.
But just a day after she was cast in the production, the emergence of an old Facebook post in which she quoted the Bible to express her Christian beliefs led to her being sacked as a ‘homophobe’.
Now, six months on and with her career in ruins, the 25-year-old is suing, saying she is a victim of religious discrimination.
Last night, the actress told The Mail on Sunday she is no longer even invited to auditions.
‘I’m heartbroken,’ she said. ‘If I’m unable to get back to the stage, then I feel there is no point. It’s the only thing I have ever wanted since I was a young girl.’
After training at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, the London-born actress quickly found parts in the West End and at the National Theatre.
In 2017, she stole the show in a gala concert production of the musical version of The Color Purple at the Cadogan Hall in London, with one critic describing her gospel vocals as ‘jaw-droppingly good’.
The sender was Aaron Lee Lambert, who stars in the West End production of Hamilton. He particularly objected to her views because the character of Celie is seen by some readers as being gay
In March this year, she auditioned for a production of the musical to be staged in Birmingham and Leicester and was ecstatic to be given the part of Celie, the central character in Alice Walker’s novel who was played by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1985 film.
But the next day she received a tweet with a screenshot of her Facebook post from September 2014.
In a discussion about homosexuality, she had written: ‘It is clearly evident in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 what the Bible says on this matter. I do not believe you can be born gay and I do not believe homosexuality is right…’
The sender was Aaron Lee Lambert, who stars in the West End production of Hamilton.
He particularly objected to her views because the character of Celie is seen by some readers as being gay.
He asked in his tweet: ‘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.’
The next morning, her agent rang. ‘I was told not to speak to the media and to keep my head down,’ she recalls.
‘Later, I was urged by the theatre and my agency to not only retract my post but apologise for what it said.
Aaron Lee Lambert’s Tweet is pictured above. Ms Omooba is determined to fight for the right to express her religious views. ‘I want to make sure no other Christian has to go through something like this,’ she said
‘I really wanted the role but what they wanted me to do was completely against my faith. I did not want to lie just to keep a job.’
She was dropped from the starring role and dumped by her agents. She has since contacted six agents who had once been eager to sign her up. Only one responded, describing her as ‘talented but misguided’ and brainwashed by her faith.
Now, she has instructed lawyers to file for breach of contract against the Curve Theatre in Leicester and her former agents, Michael Garrett Associates.
The case reignites the controversy about whether Christians can publicly express or hold views they say are based on the Bible.
It follows the landmark ruling this summer by the Court of Appeal, upholding the right of Felix Ngole to express his Christian faith, after he was forced out of university because of his views.
Ms Omooba is adamant she is not homophobic.
She said: ‘I just quoted what the Bible says about homosexuality, the need for repentance, but ultimately God’s love for all humanity. I stand by what I wrote, but had I known that it would have come to this, I would have set my account to the privacy mode.’
Her father, Pastor Ade Omooba, is a co-founder of Christian Concern, an evangelical group supporting the rights of Christians. He was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List.
Ms Omooba grew up in East London as a regular church-goer, honing her talent in the choir. She says many former colleagues have sent supportive texts.
She has instructed lawyers to file for breach of contract against the Curve Theatre in Leicester, pictured above, and her former agents, Michael Garrett Associates
‘I have support from actors that I’ve worked with, including those in same-sex relationships, who say that even though they don’t agree with my views, they know that I’m not hateful or malicious.’
Ms Omooba is determined to fight for the right to express her religious views. ‘I want to make sure no other Christian has to go through something like this,’ she said.
Ms Omooba is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
Its chief executive Andrea Williams said: ‘This story sends a chilling message that if you express mainstream biblical views, you will be punished and lose your career if you do not immediately renounce your beliefs. This cannot go unchallenged and we are determined to fight for justice in this case.’
Michael Garrett Associates last night declined to comment.
Leicester’s Curve Theatre said it stood by an earlier joint statement with the Birmingham Hippodrome which said: ‘The comments made by Seyi have caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press. Following careful reflection, it has been decided Seyi will no longer be involved with the production.’