Ellie Kemper has finally broken her silence over the resurfaced old photos of her winning Queen of Love and Beauty in 1999, organized by the troubled Veiled Prophet Organization. Twenty-two years have passed, the now-41-year-old star has now apologized and denounced white supremacy.
Kemper kept mum for a week as the controversy started to grow. However, she now releases an official statement addressing the issue that happened more than two decades ago.
In a post on Instagram, the actor acknowledged the "unquestionably racist, sexist and elitist past" surrounding the century-old organization. At 19, the comedian admitted she wasn't aware of its history at the time, but she knew ignorance was never an excuse.
"I unequivocally deplore, denounce and reject white supremacy," she firmly says. "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."
Kemper strongly believes in the "value of kindness, integrity and inclusiveness," trying her best to follow these principles. Despite the experience, the writer vows to see this incident in a positive light.
She then apologized to the people she had unintentionally disappointed and promised she would listen, continue to educate herself, and use her privilege to support a much better society.
The "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'' star's photos in question started to resurface over the Memorial Day weekend. At the time, she was a freshman at Princeton University and was crowned as a winner of the debutante ball, which is now called the Fair Saint Louis, per Yahoo.
The St. Louis-based Veiled Prophet Organization ran the said event. It was co-founded by former Confederate Colonel Alonzo Slayback, together with his brother, Confederate officer Charles Slayback and other white, wealthy business owners in the 1870s. Before Kemper got involved in this controversy, the institution was already accused of "racist and exclusionary practices."
It didn't allow Black members to join the group until 1979, after the civil rights groups' protests. The ball, on the other hand, only celebrated the city's wealthy white elite.
The Veiled Prophet Organization also released an official statement to address the issue. It said the group's dedication is to "civic progress, economic contributions and charitable causes" in St. Louis.
"Our organization believes in and promotes inclusion, diversity and equality for this region," the statement reads. "We absolutely reject racism and have never partnered or associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs."