Skip to Content

Ellie Kemper is holding herself fully accountable.

The former Office star and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star has found herself stuck in the most unusual and unexpected of scandals:

Late last month, the public learned that Kemper took part in Missouri’s Veiled Prophet ball at the age of 19, even being crowned the winner of this seemingly racist beauty pageant.

The Hollywood Gossip Logo

The organization that put on the event has done so for well over a century now — and is said to have excluded Black members … while celebrating wealthy, white community members instead.

It was founded in 1878 by former Confederate officers.

Many have since compared it a more high class type of Ku Klux Klan.

In 1999, while she was a freshman at Princeton University, Kemper was named the pageant’s “Queen of Love and Beauty.”

Ellie Kemper Image
(Getty Images)

What the what, right?!?

Said Kemper about a week after her participation in this ball went viral:

“Hi guys – 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.”

The Hollywood Gossip Logo

She continued:

“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.”

When the newspaper clipping of her winning this pageant initially went viral, the Bridesmaids star wanted to believe that the “detractors were getting it all wrong,” but she quickly realized they were right.

The Hollywood Gossip Logo

And she was the one who was very wrong back in the day.

“I realized that a lot of the forces behind the criticism are forces that I’ve spent my life supporting and agreeing with,” Kemper wrote.

“I believe strongly in the values of kindness, integrity and inclusiveness. 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 in a positive light.”

The Hollywood Gossip Logo

Kemper’s mea culpa post was met with supportive remarks from Katie Couric, Mindy Kaling and Wendi McLendon-Covey, along with grateful messages from fans who thanked the comedic star for owning up to her wrongdoing.

Wrote Kemper on June 7:

“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."

The Hollywood Gossip Logo

Tituss Burgess, who starred opposite Kemper on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, took to his Instagram on Tuesday to re-share Kemper’s apology.

"I love my Ellie," he simply wrote.

In the comments section, he also responded to Kemper.

After she repliied with "I love you Tituss," Burgess jumped in as follows:

"Oh, & P.S. Next time, just ask me, I’ll tell ya what to do." 

The Hollywood Gossip Logo

Amid the backlash, meanwhile, the Veiled Prophet Organization defended its history in a statement to USA Today, describing the group as being “dedicated to civic progress, economic contributions and charitable causes in St. Louis.”

It added:

“Our organization believes in and promotes inclusion, diversity and equality for this region.

"We absolutely reject racism and have never partnered or associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs.”