Ellie Kemper is speaking out after old photos surfaced that revealed as a teenager she was part of a debutante ball with a dark past.
The actress broke her silence on Instagram on Monday saying she was unaware of the groups antisemitic and racist history when it happened.
“Hi guys – when I was 19 years old, I deiced 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,” she wrote.
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The “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” actress was crowned the “Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty” in St. Louis in 1999. The Veiled Prophet organization was reportedly founded by a former confederate officer and did not allow Black or Jewish people in until the late 70s.
“I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy,” Ellie continued in her post to her followers. “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.”
She went on to admit that she was tempted to ignore the controversy surrounding her, which started heating up last week.
“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,” she said.
“I believe strongly in the values of kindness, integrity, and inclusiveness. I try to live my life in accordance with these values,” she said. “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.
She closed out her statement with an apology and went on to say she would do better.
“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,” she concluded.
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