Ellie Kemper has apologised for taking part in a controversial debutante ball in 1999.
The actress, best known for her roles on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Office, took to social media following backlash surrounding her involvement in the Veiled Prophet Ball in St Louis.
“The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past,” Kemper wrote on Instagram.
“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. 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 news broke after a photo of Kemper resurfaced on social media, in which she was crowned the 1999 Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty.
A 2014 article in The Atlantic described the ball as “a parade founded by white elites in 1877 to protect their position”.
Kemper concluded her post by writing: “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.”
In other news, The Office, in which Ellie Kemper played Erin Hannon for five seasons, started streaming on UK Netflix in early 2021.