Old photos of actress Ellie Kemper, who rose to fame in roles in “The Office” and “Bridesmaids” before starring in the Netflix series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” resurfaced over Memorial Day weekend and ignited controversy for her involvement with a St. Louis organization that historically celebrated the wealthy white elite while excluding Black members.

The Veiled Prophet Organization, which originated in the late 1800s as a group of wealthy business owners in St. Louis, still holds an annual debutante event called the Veiled Prophet Ball, in which the daughter of one of the group’s members is crowned queen by a “Veiled Prophet,” a secret member who wears white robes and a white veil covering his face.

“Each year, approximately sixty to seventy young women are chosen for their outstanding community service efforts and walk down the magnificent 72-foot-long Veiled Prophet runway in fashionable couture gowns, and in front of family and friends, are presented and honored for their contributions,” reads an event description from the Veiled Prophet organization’s website.

 

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