Ellie Kemper Breaks Silence Following Veiled Prophet Ball Backlash: ‘Ignorance Is No Excuse’
Ellie Kemper found herself in the news last week when a rather questionable moment from her past was unearthed.
In early June, it was unveiled that when The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a teenager, she took part in a controversial debutante ball called the Veiled Prophet Ball in her native Missouri. The pageant-like affair was hosted by a group with racist roots known as the Veiled Prophet Organization, and — according to resurfaced photos — Kemper, 19 at the time, was even crowned the "Queen of Love and Beauty" during the event.
The St. Louis-based organization, which has since changed its name to Fair Saint Louis, was founded in the late 1800s by Charles Slayback, a former soldier for the Confederacy, alongside a number of other white men. One of its rules for the ball? Only white people were allowed to participate... all the way up until 1979.
After staying silent for days, on Monday (June 7), Kemper finally addressed the backlash her participation in the ball stirred up.
"Hi guys. When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown. The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past," she wrote to her followers on Instagram.
Kemper added that she was "not aware of this history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse," and that she was "old enough to have educated myself before getting involved."
"I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy," the actress continued. "At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that has dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards ... I want to apologize to the people I've disappointed, and I promise that moving forward, I will listen, continue to educate myself, and use my privilege in support of the better society I think we're capable of becoming."
Kemper's candid post earned comments of support from numerous former co-stars and celeb pals, from The Office's Mindy Kaling and Angela Kinsey to Wendy McLendon-Covey and Katie Couric.
Read the actress' full apology below.