Ellie Kemper Issues Apology After Debutante Ball Controversy: 'Ignorance Is No Excuse'

“I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy.”

Ellie Kemper has issued an apology in the wake of resurfaced photos of her participating in a 1999 debutante ball put on by St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet Organization.

On Monday, the actress shared a lengthy statement in which she addressed the photos and apologized for her involvement with Veiled Prophet .

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“Hi guys — when I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown,” began Kemper, 41. “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,” she 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.”

The “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star added that “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.” However, Kemper said she “realized that a lot of the forces behind the criticism are forces that I’ve spent my life supporting and agreeing with.”

“I believe strongly in the values of kindness, integrity, and inclusiveness,” she continued in her statement. “I try to live my life in accordance with these values. If my experience is an indication that organizations and institutions with pasts that fall short of these beliefs should be held to account, then I have to see this experience in a positive light.”

Kemper concluded, “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. Thank you for reading this.”

Over Memorial Day weekend, photos from old newspaper clippings of Kemper participating in the Veiled Prophet Ball reemerged on Twitter. As shown in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch archived article, Kemper was crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty at the 1999 Veiled Prophet Ball. At the time, the “Bridesmaids” star was 19 and a freshman at Princeton University.

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Last week, The Veiled Prophet Organization responded to the backlash in a statement to USA Today, noting that their organization is “dedicated 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 org said in the statement. “We absolutely reject racism and have never partnered or associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs.”

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