‘The Office’ Actress Ellie Kemper Responds To Controversy Surrounding Her Participation In Racist Debutante Ball


  • Ellie Kemper has responded to the backlash regarding her participation in The St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet Ball.
  • The St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet Ball has a history of racism.
  • Kemper, in an Instagram post, said that “ignorance is no excuse.”

Last week, we brought you the story that people on social media had started calling The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actress Ellie Kemper a “KKK Princess” due to her participation in The St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet Ball back in 1999. Not only did Kemper participate in the ball, but she actually won and was named the 1999 Queen of Love and Beauty. Now, about a week later, Kemper has spoken publicly about the controversy for the first time.

In a statement posted to Instagram, Kemper, 41, apologized for her participation in the “racist, sexist, and elitist” debutante ball, stating that while she was unaware of the organization’s history at the time, “ignorance is no excuse”:

“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 the history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse,” Kemper began.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star then made clear that while she was not aware of the St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet Ball’s history at the time, she should’ve done more to educate herself:

“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 dispended unequal justice and unequal rewards. 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 I’ve spent my life supporting and agreeing with. 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 experience in a positive light. I want to apologize to the people I’ve disappointed, and I promise that movie 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.”

Kemper certainly received plenty of support for her mea culpa, as actors such as Rob Delaney, Alec Baldwin, Aubrey Plaza, Rainn Wilson, Yvette Nicole Brown, and more all left positive comments on the post.

Kemper can next be seen starring in Disney’s upcoming reboot of Home Alone.

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Eric Italiano is a NYC-based writer who spearheads BroBible's Pop Culture and Entertainment content. He covers topics such as Movies, TV, and Video Games, while interviewing actors, directors, and writers.