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Actors’ social media use in spotlight following Seyi Omooba case

Should social media accounts be monitored? Photo: Twin Design/Shutterstock

Actors have been warned to exercise caution when sharing on social media, following a tumultuous week in which performer Seyi Omooba left musical The Color Purple as a result of a historic Facebook post [1].

Since Omooba’s 2014 post, in which she claimed being gay was wrong, talent agency Global Artists – which used to represent the actor – has also removed any reference to her on its site.

The controversy around Omooba began when the Facebook post of 2014 was shared widely on social media, after it was announced she was to star in The Color Purple.

In her 2014 Facebook post, she said: “I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right. [Even] though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”

The character of Celie in The Color Purple, which she was due to play, has a relationship with a woman.

Omooba immediately came under fire from actors and other industry figures, who questioned how she could have accepted the role in the first place, with some labelling her a hypocrite.

Since the post emerged, questions have been raised about whether casting directors and others involved in auditions will begin to scrutinise performers’ social media postings more carefully in the future.

The Casting Directors’ Guild declined to comment, while Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome, which are co-producing the musical, said they did not “operate a social-media screening process in the casting of actors”.

However, union Equity issued a warning to its members in light of Omooba’s case.

Assistant general secretary Matt Hood said: “Our members, like those in every industry, should be mindful that anything they post on social media can become publicly available and may be seen by a future employer.”

It was announced that Omooba was no longer involved in Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s production of The Color Purple on March 21, almost a week after the Facebook post came to light.

In their statement, the theatres said: “The comments made by Seyi in that post have caused significant and widely expressed concerns both on social media and in the wider press.”

The statement added: “Following careful reflection it has been decided that Seyi will no longer be involved with the production. This decision was supported by the authors and Theatrical Rights Worldwide.”

Omooba has yet to comment publicly on the remarks she made in 2014 or her departure from the production.

However, she did use Twitter this week to deny a report on a website this week that clamied she stood by her comments.

“The article posted yesterday by Bernard Dayo… regarding a statement made by me is false, I have no publicist, I have made no recent statement. I have no idea who these people are. This is false information,” she said.

Global Artists declined to comment when The Stage contacted the agency about whether it still represents Omooba, despite removing her from its site.

Talent agency Global Artists drops listing of Seyi Omooba after anti-gay post [2]