Broadway and TV actor Tituss Burgess expressed support on social media for his “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” costar Ellie Kemper after she apologized for participating in a debutante ball with a racist past.
On Monday, Burgess shared Kemper’s apology to his own Instagram page after evidence resurfaced online of the “Office” alum being crowned Queen of Love and Beauty at the Fair Saint Louis in 1999 when she was 19.
The annual event, previously called the Veiled Prophet Ball, and the organization behind it have a history of excluding Black people and have been accused of affiliating with the Ku Klux Klan — prompting some to dub Kemper a “KKK princess” after details and a photo from her coronation recently went viral.
“I love my Ellie,” Burgess posted on Instagram, along with a heart emoji. “Oh, & P.S. Next time, just ask me, I’ll tell ya what to do.”
In the Netflix sitcom “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Burgess and Kemper portrayed roommates and friends Titus and Kimmy, respectively, navigating life in New York City. The popular series, co-created by Robert Carlock and Tina Fey, ran for four seasons from 2015 to 2019.
“I love you Tituss,” Kemper replied to her longtime scene partner’s Instagram message.
Earlier that day, Kemper released a statement on social media addressing the controversy surrounding her former involvement with the VP, which began admitting Black members two decades before Kemper won the Fair Saint Louis pageant.
“The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist and elitist past,” Kemper wrote. “I was not aware of this history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved.
“I 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.”
In addition to Burgess, the comedian and actor also received words and emojis of encouragement from Hollywood figures such as Angela Kinsey, Mindy Kaling, Yvette Nicole Brown and Alec Baldwin, who showed up for her in the comment section.
“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,” Kemper continued her remarks. “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 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.”