Last year, an anonymous woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari accused him of sexual behavior that she classified as assault but he called consensual
For the first time since his initial statement, Aziz Ansari has publicly addressed the sexual misconduct allegation leveled against him a little over a year ago.
Taking the stage Monday night at the Village Underground in New York City, Ansari, 35, said talking about the allegation is “terrifying,” according to Vulture.
“There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way,” he said, his voice reportedly wavering. “But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
Last January, an anonymous woman who went on a date with Ansari accused him of sexual behavior that she classified as assault but he called consensual in a controversial article published on Babe.net. The piece sparked a public conversation regarding the nuances of the #MeToo movement.
According to Vulture, on Monday, Ansari recalled a conversation in which a friend told him the story made him rethink every date he’s been on.
“If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing,” he said.
Ansari went on to profess how grateful he is to be able to perform comedy for a living, Vulture reported, saying the allegation gave him “perspective” on his life.
“There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again,” he said.
Ansari’s accuser, a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer, recounted her allegations under the pseudonym “Grace.” She alleged that after meeting Ansari at an Emmy Awards afterparty in September 2017, they exchanged numbers and eventually went on a date, which she called “the worst of my life.” After a meal, she said they returned to his apartment, where she alleged that Ansari behaved coercively and that several sexual acts occurred though she was “physically giving off cues that [she] wasn’t interested.”
In response, Ansari issued a statement acknowledging they went on a date and ended up engaging in sexual activity which he said “by all indications was completely consensual.”
“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable,” he continued. “It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture,” he added. “It is necessary and long overdue.”
Ansari has kept a relatively low profile since the allegation, though he resumed performing standup last fall and has been hosting self-described “pop-up” shows as a warm-up for his upcoming international tour this spring.