The American actress Ellie Kemper has been facing some backlash after it was revealed that many years ago when she was a teenager, she was part of some shady and dubious pageant contest.
Ellie Kemper is best known for playing the roles of Erin Hannon in the sitcom The Office from 2009 to 2013 and Kimmy Schmidt in the sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from 2015 until 2017, this later made her earn two consecutive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She is also credited in films like Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street, and Sex Tape. However, not even her greatest achievements have saved her from what happened.
The internet has two faces, it could be total heaven but also a total hell, and this time for Ellie it is the worst scenario ever. Some days ago photos resurfaced where we can see her being crowned the "Queen of Love and Beauty" at the Veiled Prophet Ball (now called the Fair Saint Louis) in 1999. So far so good right? Like any pageant, we know, however. This is not the case.
First, we need to understand the not-so-secret society behind the Ellie Kemper controversy, the Veiled Prophet Organization. According to a 2014 feature about the organization published in The Atlantic, the Veiled Prophet Organization was formed in 1878 by 14 wealthy St. Louis businessmen "in response to growing labor unrest in the city, much of it involving cooperation between white and Black workers. In simple words, they were worried that white and black people might unite or mix when talking about protesting. And Ellie Kemper, who does not follow those ideals, shared a message on her Instagram account.
“Hi guys, when I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown," she began. "The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past. I was not aware of history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved."
She then went to say that she 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 continued. She also spoke about the backlash she has been receiving and declared that "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."
Ellie Kemper then added that she strongly believes in values like kindness, integrity, and inclusiveness and explained that she tries to live her life in accordance with those 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."