Over the last week or so the tribunal has judged actress Seyi Omooba’s case against venue and her former agents.
I could have guessed what the outcome would be. Predicting the result was as obvious as case was fascinating.
There are emerging themes which I think are quite unnerving.
Firstly, Omooba admitted that, though she was in a concert production of The Color Purple, and she had accepted a lead role in it she had not read nor looked at, nor seen nor done any significant research into the piece.
My education head was screaming – what are Drama Schools teaching these people? Some time ago, we moved from having to know every part of a subject and onto skill based learning where students learned something called transferrable skills – did Omooba NEVER learn about researching a role? As astonishing as it may sound, it ought to be the very least anyone in life has, is an understanding of what they are expected to do when they take on a job. It is an astonishing defence of yourself to suggest that your inability to achieve that should excuse you, in anyway. It’s like a faith based vegetarian recoiling in horror in her first shift at KFC.
Next up is her rule that she would not play a gay role and that this was apparently known to her agent. Why was she put forward for either the concert role or the full production then? If you know that someone is not going to play something then why send them to the audition? Are we returning to the dark days of – have an actor, will send to audition, no matter what the role?
It will be interesting to see how the agents come out of that.
Then there is the disturbing issue, which cannot be dodged, of just how we see people’s personal opinions and how these should colour, if you pardon the pun, our view of them within roles. Given the outcry against her, the threat of some agents within Global, who represented her at the time, threatening to quit and the grim possibility that had the production gone ahead it would have had very serious credibility implications for the theatres and organisations involved, this has massive implications for the industry. It is tough not to believe that had she gone on to perform that a lot of jobs would have been at risk of cancelation because of her beliefs. Is it right though, for her opinions to be condemned and for her point of view, which is earnestly held, to lead to persecution?
And it would be persecution.
I have no problem with Omooba’s opinions. I disagree with them vehemently, but she has a right to hold them. Does what she think, mean that she must never work again? If opinions are honestly held and honestly expressed, then I see no issue with them whatsoever. I am able to find a view based on what I know. I do not have to second guess or become Donald Rumsfeld in the idea of what we know, what we don’t know and how we might not know anything at all. I am therefore, very unimpressed that she had to be outed. It is her earnest lie by omission that is simply wrong.
She was also offered all the money she would have earned but is pursuing mammon instead. The impression we all have is that her brand of Christianity is not faith based but money orientated.
To that end I find her arguments sullied by the approach she is taking. Her own Lord saw persecution as a crucible through which his faith was tested. This seems to be an opportunity through which her patience has been tested and she is impatient to get back into the industry, perform as she wishes and earn as she ought. No problem there except it is a den of inequity and she should not sully herself with it, surely? Her faith should guide her away from such nonsense.
I am sorry that she lost. I am sorry because she should have never taken anyone to court in the first place. Omooba pursued fame but has been rewarded by infamy. She may now be her own toxic brand because those who have been behind her have pushed her pursuit of something that is less than justice: money. If she does recover her career there is little chance of her being allowed to hide her lights under such a baseless faith.