Actress Seyi Omooba has been ordered to pay £300,000 in legal costs after losing a court battle over her sacking from a production of The Color Purple.
Seyi Omooba was cast as Celie in a musical production of The Color Purple at Leicester Curve Theatre in 2019 and was shut out by her agency, Global Artists, after it emerged that she had made an anti-gay remark on social media.
The character is often shown as having a lesbian sexual orientation – the intended interpretation for the show.
But Ms Omooba, a devout Christian, said she was not informed of the production’s take.
It was announced in March 2019 she would no longer be part of the musical after the old Facebook post resurfaced. Her 2014 message said people could not be “born gay” and she did not believe homosexuality was “right”.
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.
“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.”
The 26-year-old actress brought a claim of about £128,000 against the theatre and her former agents on the grounds of religious discrimination and breach of contract.
But lawyers representing the venue say the dismissal about which she complains is over a role she would have refused to play anyway.
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.”