Monday, July 22, 2024

Alice Walker Pens Open Letter Regarding the Firing of Anti-Gay ‘Color Purple’ Actress

Acclaimed author and activist Alice Walker has recently spoken out about the recent events surrounding a stage production of the musical adaption of her 1983 Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel The Color Purple

British actress Oluwaseyi Omooba is now planning to sue her agents, Global Artists, and the Leicester Curve Theatre, after she was dropped as a client at her agency and fired from a production of The Color Purple. The England production was set to be performed in both Leicester and at the Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham. Omooba was set to play the lead role of Celie in the production, but was dropped after homophobic remarks she made in a 2014 Facebook post were resurfaced by actor Aaron Lee Lambert of the musical Hamilton

According to New York Daily News, the 25-year old rising actress made comments about homosexuality being a “sin”, saying she doesn’t believe that anyone is “born gay”. She then went on to say homosexuality is “legal, but not right” in the eyes of God.

Lambert exposed the post, stating that the actress would be a hypocrite if she accepts a role as an LGBTQ character, while also holding these views. Omooba expressed that she feels that her Christian beliefs are being discriminated against. 

Walker had remained relatively silent about the matter until last week when she penned an open letter, authorizing producer Scott Sanders to share it to Facebook. She expressed “heartfelt compassion” for Omooba, but also stated, “Playing the role of ‘Celie’ while not believing in her right to be loved, or to express her love in any way she chooses, would be a betrayal of women’s right to be free.”

In the letter she also explains how she created Celie, and why her identity as a woman who is attracted to other women is so important. “[Celie] is based on the life of my grandmother, Rachel, a kind and loving woman brutally abused by my grandfather,” she wrote. “It is safe to say, after a frightful life serving and obeying abusive men, who raped in place of ‘making love,’ my grandmother, like Celie, was not attracted to men.”

Walker, who has had relationships with both men and women, goes on to explain her idea of love, and her belief that everyone has a right to be loved, urging readers to read the scriptures of all religions. “Sexual love can be extraordinarily holy, whoever might be engaging in it,” she says. “Love, however it may be expressed, is to be honored and welcomed into the light of our common survival as a consciously human race.”

“As an elder, I urge all of us to think carefully about what I am saying, even as you, Oluwaseyi Omooba, sue the theatre company for voiding your contract. This is just an episode in your life; your life, your work, and your growth, will continue, in the real world. A world we must make safe for women and children, female and male. And the greatest freedom of all is the freedom to be your authentic self.” – Alice Walker

Before being adapted into a musical, The Color Purple was adapted into a 1985 film, directed by Stephen Spielberg. Both the film and stage productions are notable for strong female-led ensembles that have earned numerous award nominations and wins.

Film nominations include a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Whoopi Goldberg’s breakthrough performance as Celie, as well as Best Supporting Actress nominations for Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery. Both LaChanze, who originated the role on Broadway, and Cynthia Erivo have won Tony Awards for their stage portrayals of Celie.

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson is an educator, writer and actor currently spending the bulk of his time between New York, New York and London, England. He is an active member of both the bear and leather communities and is a proud member of the MidAtlantic Chapter of ONYX.

Kyle Jackson has 80 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Jackson

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