Ellie Kemper starred as Erin in The Office, answering phones as Dunder Mifflin’s favorite receptionist. But this week, fans want her to answer for something else entirely and offer an explanation over a controversial resurfaced photo.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star began trending on Twitter Monday, after an old photo emerged showing her being crowned queen of a 1999 Veiled Prophet Ball when she was a 19-year-old college student.
The event, which takes place annually in St. Louis, was founded in 1878 by white elites and “emphasized the existing power structure,” banning Black and Jewish members, according to a 2014 report from The Atlantic. The original 1878 “veiled prophet” dawned a white robe and a hood, which notoriously became the uniform of the Ku Klux Klan.
The apparent archival newspaper photos, which feature the caption “Elizabeth Claire Kemper, as the 1999 Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty, is attended by her pages,” resurfaced when a Twitter user asked why nobody explained that Ellie was crowned “KKK queen” in 1999.
While the event doesn’t have Ku Klux Klan ties, Black Lives Matter activists have looked at it as symbolizing racist power structures in the city. Before the tweet went viral, the information that she was selected as queen was available on Kemper’s Wikipedia page, as noted by the Daily Dot.
As reported by The Atlantic, the Veiled Prophet is selected by “a secret board of local elites,” and then picks out his Queen of Love and Beauty among a group of women. Kemper has yet to respond to the controversy.