An unidentified 23-year-old woman accused Aziz Ansari of sexual behavior that she classified as assault but he called consensual

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February 02, 2018 08:56 PM

Aziz Ansari‘s Master of None costar Lena Waithe made her first statements regarding the sexual misconduct allegation against her friend and Emmy-winning collaborator.

“Here’s the truth — in every situation, it’s not always black-and-white. And I know that’s simple for people, and it’s easy for people to [ask], ‘Whose side are you on?’ There are no sides, really, in some of these scenarios. I’m not on Harvey Weinstein’s side, I’m not on Kevin Spacey’s side,” Waithe told KPCC’s The Frame on Thursday.

The Chi creator’s comment about Ansari comes two weeks after an anonymous woman accused him of sexual behavior that she classified as assault but he called consensual.

A 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer recounted her allegations against the actor to Babe.net under the pseudonym “Grace” in a story published Jan. 13. Her account generated much controversy, sparking a public conversation regarding the nuances of the #MeToo movement.

The woman said she decided to come forward after she saw Ansari wearing a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globe Awards the week before, where he won best comedy actor in a TV series.

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe in September 2017

“I think you have to take each situation [individually]. You can’t just say, ‘Well, I’m on this person’s team, or I’m on that person’s team.’ It doesn’t work that way. I think a big thing is, we have to have a dialogue,” Waithe said. “I think if we’re unwilling to have a dialogue we’re gonna continue to keep hitting our heads against the wall. We have to start re-educating ourselves about what consent is, what’s appropriate behavior at the workplace. We have to create codes of conduct. Those are things that we need.”

To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.

In a statement given to PEOPLE, Ansari said that he and the woman engaged “in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”

He continued, “The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. 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.”

Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari in Master of None
Universal TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Waithe also voiced her support for the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements to The Frame.

“It’s about really educating ourselves and not stepping in it and just [saying], ‘Oh, I’m sorry. My bad’ — and sort of keep going,” she shared. “It’s about really sitting with yourself and educating yourself in terms of what consent is, what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like. And all of us starting to really act accordingly based on this new information that I think we have now. We all gotta start talking to each other, start educating each other.”

WATCH: Meet the Silence-Breakers Who Are Changing the World with Time’s Up and #MeToo

Ansari’s friend Amy Schumer also shared her statements on the allegations against him recently.

He’s been my friend and I really feel for the woman. I identify with all the women in these situations. Even if it’s my friend, I don’t go, ‘Oh, but he’s a good guy.’ I think, ‘What would it feel like to have been her?’ ” Schumer said in a new interview for The Katie Couric Podcast.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see Aziz’s career ruined or his life ruined or anything like that, but that’s where people’s minds go,” Schumer told Couric. “They go ‘Does he deserve this?’ And it’s really not about that. I think it’s about expressing and showing women that that behavior is not okay and not only can you leave, but you need to leave. Because then the women who come after you, you’re leaving a mark for them too.”

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