Ellie Kemper apologises for taking part in ‘racist, sexist, and elitist’ Veiled Prophet Ball

‘I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved’

Clémence Michallon
New York City
Monday 07 June 2021 19:13 BST
<p>Ellie Kemper at a panel on 29 May 2019 in Los Angeles, California</p>

Ellie Kemper at a panel on 29 May 2019 in Los Angeles, California

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Ellie Kemper has apologised for taking part in what she described as a “racist, sexist, and elitist” ball in the 1990s.

The actor made the apology in a lengthy Instagram post on Monday.

She shared it after a photo of herself at the 1999 Veiled Prophet Ball in St Louis, Missouri, resurfaced on social media, prompting criticism. A 2014 article in The Atlantic described the ball as “a parade founded by white elites in 1877 to protect their position”.

In her Instagram post, Kemper sought to address the event’s roots, writing: “When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown.

“The century-old organisation 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.”

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star added: “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.”

She said that “a lot of the forces behind the criticism [she has faced] are forces that I’ve sent my life supporting and agreeing with”.

“I want to apologise to the people I’ve disappointed,” Kemper added, “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.”

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