Actress Ellie Kemper issues a statement and apology regarding the recent controversy over her past attendance at a racist St. Louis ball.
Actress Ellie Kemper issues a statement and apology regarding the recent controversy over her past attendance at a racist ball. A scene-stealer from movies like Bridesmaids, Kemper is best known for playing Erin Hannon on The Office from season 5 onward. She then went on to play the title role on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a performance that earned her a great deal of critical praise and awards attention. Kemper will next be seen in Disney+’s Home Alone reboot as one of the main villains alongside Rob Delaney and lead actor Archie Yates.
Controversy surrounding Kemper first emerged last week when old photos of the actress attending St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet ball, a yearly event that has existed since 1878, resurfaced online. As a Missouri native with ties to the wealthiest families in the area, Kemper participated in the Veiled Prophet ball when she was 19, even going on to be crowned that year’s Veiled Prophet queen. Though not explicitly linked to organizations like the KKK, the Veiled Prophet Organization is considered racist due to its questionable imagery, its upholding of a so-called cultural elite, and the fact that Black and Jewish participants were barred from joining for decades.
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Earlier on Monday, Kemper posted a statement on social media taking full responsibility for her actions. The statement, which wasn’t accompanied with a caption of any kind, begins with Kemper acknowledging her previous attendance at the Veiled Prophet ball and writing, “The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past. I was not aware of this history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved.” She went on to say, “I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy. At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards.” Kemper also accepted all the criticism currently being leveled at her and apologized to those she hurt. You can read her full post in the space below.
Kemper’s post, which has received some supportive responses from past co-stars such as Wendi McLendon-Covey and Mindy Kaling, comes as those in Hollywood and across the United States are continuing to reckon with past racist behaviors. The concept of a racist ball was also a hot topic in the reality television sphere earlier this year, as Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell came under fire for going to an antebellum-themed party in 2018.
Kemper’s statement regarding the Veiled Prophet incident is thoughtful and carefully considered. At the same time, it’s up to BIPOC to determine whether it is a true show of remorse. It’s worth mentioning that Kemper is now in her early 40s, and this occurred when she was 19. As she said in her post, age and ignorance isn’t an excuse, but it is something worth considering. That Kemper has taken responsibility and addressed the situation seems like a positive step forward, and hopefully she will continue to grow from this experience.
More: What Ellie Kemper Has Done Since The Office
Source: Ellie Kemper/Instagram
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