Ellie Kemper apologises for participating in "racist, sexist and elitist" Veiled Prophet ball

8 June 2021, 11:41

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Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

The Veiled Prophet Organization was founded by a former Confederate officer in 1878, and Black and Jewish members were banned until the '70s.

Ellie Kemper has apologised for participating in a "racist, sexist and elitist" debutant ball following backlash.

In 1999, Ellie – who was 19-years-old at the time – was crowned the Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty. And last week, old photos of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actress participating in the racist beauty pageant were leaked online.

The Veiled Prophet Ball is a debutante ball held annually in St. Louis, Missouri, by the Veiled Prophet Organization. The Queen of Love and Beauty is selected by the Veiled Prophet (who is chosen secretly by other male members) from the debutantes who had received invitations to the ball, who were typically daughters of the organisation's most influential members.

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Ellie Kemper apologises for participating in "racist, sexist and elitist" Veiled Prophet ball.
Ellie Kemper apologises for participating in "racist, sexist and elitist" Veiled Prophet ball. Picture: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images, @elliekemper via Instagram

The organisation, which has has been compared to the KKK because of the outfits male members wear and its racist origins, was founded by a former Confederate officer in 1878. Until the 1970s, Black and Jewish people were banned from joining.

Of course, fans were shocked to see Ellie associated with Veiled Prophet and "KKK Princess" started trending.

Ellie has now addressed the situation in a statement posted on Instagram and apologised for participating in the ball. She wrote: "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. 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.

"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 has dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards."

Ellie then added that when the photos of her at the ball went viral she was tempted to ignore it, but ultimately she realised that not speaking about it would mean she is supporting the organisation's horrific views. She added: "There is a very natural temptation, when you become the subject of internet criticism, to tell yourself that your detractors are getting it all wrong. But at some point last week, I realized that a lot of the forces behind the criticism are forces that I've spent my life supporting and agreeing with."

Read Ellie's full statement here.

Ellie finished her statement by apologising for offending people. She continued: "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."