Ellie Kemper previously came under fire when photos surfaced of her in attendance at a 1999 Missouri ball that only permitted white people to participate until 1979

By Nicholas Rice
June 08, 2021 09:17 AM
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Tituss Burgess is lending his support to his Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt costar, Ellie Kemper.

Last week, Kemper, 41, came under fire when photos surfaced of her being crowned the "Queen of Love and Beauty" at the Veiled Prophet Ball (now called the Fair Saint Louis) in 1999. The Veiled Prophet Organization was originally co-founded in the late 1800s by former Confederate officer Charles Slayback and other prominent white St. Louisans, who only permitted white people to participate up until 1979.

Kemper addressed the controversy surrounding the situation in a statement on Instagram Monday, which was later reposted by Burgess, 42, with a message of support.

Resharing Kemper's statement to his own account, the Broadway star wrote, "I love my Ellie ❤️."

"Oh, & P.S. Next time, just ask me, I'll tell ya what to do 🥰," he added, as Kemper replied in the comments, "I love you Tituss," alongside three heart emojis. 

Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess
Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

In her Monday statement, Kemper began by writing, "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 the history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse," The Office alum continued. "I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved."

"I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy," she added. "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."

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Then addressing the backlash she received, the actress wrote, "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," she continued. "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."

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Kemper then ended her own statement with an apology, stating, "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."

In a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, the Veiled Prophet Organization denounced racism.

"Upon reflection, the Veiled Prophet Organization acknowledges our past and recognizes the criticism levied our way. We sincerely apologize for the actions and images from our history. Additionally, our lack of cultural awareness was and is wrong. We are committed to change, allowing our actions to match the organization we are today," the statement read.

"The VP Organization of today categorically rejects racism, in any form. Today's VP is committed to diversity and equity in our membership, community service initiatives and support for the region," they continued. "Our hope is that moving forward, the community sees us for who we are today and together we can move this region forward for everyone. We are, and always will be committed to the success of the region and making St Louis a better place to live for all."