Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper was trending on Twitter after being dubbed the ‘KKK beauty queen’ after an old photo was unearthed.
The viral photo shows Kemper, aged 19, serve as the Queen of Love and Beauty at the Veiled Prophet Ball in 1999. It is now called the Fair St. Louis.
Twitter detectives uncovered a newspaper article from a local Missouri publication noting Ellie Kemper, a freshman at Princeton University, was selected as the Veiled Prophet Queen at the local pageant.
The article says the Kemper is “the 105th young woman to be so honored by the Veiled Prophet organization.”
The article also described her outfit for the pageant adding, “She wore a white satin square-neck gown designed by Tomasina and purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue.”
According to Newsweek, the controversial event reportedly once barred African-Americans and Jewish-Americans from joining and was exclusively held for wealthy white people only.
Despite its racist past, the Veiled Prophet Ball has no ties to the KKK.
An 1878 illustration of the Veiled Prophet in the Missouri Republican has drawn comparison to the Klu Klux Klan attire; however, the event predates the KKK, which was formed in 1915.
Twitter reacts to the controversy
Many on Twitter debated whether the actress was aware of the controversial event’s racist history.
Jake Flores wrote on Twitter: “the Ellie Kemper thing is hilarious, but you people don’t really think she’s like, a secret nazi agent and not just from some dumb ass town where they make you square dance right.”
In response to the tweet, another user added that it was unfair to label the actress the ‘KKK princess’:
“Yeah, it feels like Twitter has gone off the rails a little bit here. It’s an embarrassment for certain, but there’s nothing that ties Ellie Kemper to the KKK. It’s unfair to put that label on her.”
One user wrote that the focus should be on Kemper’s wealthy relatives and their potential roles in the controversial organization: “It’s fascinating that people are focused on whether Ellie Kemper was deb in a racist group at 19, & not whether her father & uncle, both major bank CEOs, belonged to that organization.”
Several tweets poked fun at controversy, including references to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, where she plays the character in the title:
Ellie Kemper has not responded to the reports at the time of writing this article.