For the first time in months, Aziz Ansari spoke extensively about the sexual misconduct allegation that was levied against him in early 2018.
“There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way,” the Parks and Recreation alum, 35, said on stage during a pop-up comedy show at the Village Underground in New York City on Monday, February 11, via Vulture Opens a New Window. .
As his voice reportedly wavered, Ansari admitted that the scandal was “terrifying to talk about.” After all, Monday night’s show was only the second time that he has publicly addressed it.
“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,” he told the sold-out crowd of approximately 200 people. “If that [allegation] 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.”
The two-time Emmy winner explained that the accusation “gave me perspective on life” and made him feel grateful for his career.
“There was a moment where I was scared that I’d never be able to do this again,” he said, later thanking the audience for listening to him “talk for an hour and some change” because “it means the world to me.”
A 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer told Babe.net in January 2018 that she went out to dinner with Ansari after meeting at an Emmys afterparty months earlier. They returned to his apartment, where the woman, who used the pseudonym Grace, claimed Ansari had been sexually cohesive. She described it to the website as “the worst night of my life.”
The story was met with a polarized response on social media as some people suggested that the night merely sounded like a bad date, while others accused Grace of trivializing the #MeToo movement. Ansari, for his part, said in a statement to Us Weekly at the time (the only one he had made until Monday’s comedy show) that he felt his encounter with the woman was consensual, noting that he continues “to support the movement that is happening in our culture.”
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