Actor Ellie Kemper apologized Monday on Instagram for her participation in a debutante ball for a St. Louis organization that has long been accused of racism and elitism.

Last week, the former “Office” cast member came under fire when it emerged that she had been crowned Queen of Love and Beauty at the secretive Veiled Prophet Ball in 1999. The exclusive event, presided over by a “veiled prophet” wearing a Klan-like hood, was first created more than 140 years ago for the city’s white business elite to gather in a show of economic and racial power.

Kemper didn’t comment on the outcry until Monday, when she put out a five-part apology on Instagram.

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A post shared by Ellie Kemper (@elliekemper)

The complete statement appears below: 

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.

I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy. At the same time, I acknowledge that pecause of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that has dispensed 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 that 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 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.
Thanks for reading this.




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