Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari has issued a statement in response to a report in which a woman recounted a date with the actor that she called “the worst night of my life.”
“In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date,” said Ansari in a statement given to PEOPLE. “We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”
Continued the statement, “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.”
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue,” the 34-year-old Master of None star said.
Ansari’s statement was in response to the claims of a woman referred to only as a 23-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer named “Grace,” which were recounted to Babe.
Grace claimed that after meeting Ansari at an Emmy Awards afterparty in September 2017, they exchanged numbers and eventually went on a date. After a meal, she said they returned to his apartment, where she alleged that several sexual acts occurred though she was “physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested.”
She said that she told Ansari she didn’t want to feel forced into sex, and claimed that though he expressed understanding, he later again allegedly kept trying to kiss her and undo her pants.
The anonymous woman claimed that Ansari called her a car when she wanted to leave, and texted her the next day. She shared a screenshot of the alleged conversation, in which she said, “Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me. You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances.”
“I’m so sad to hear this,” he allegedly responded. “All I can say is, it would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
The woman said she decided to come forward after she saw Ansari wearing a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globe Awards last week, where he won best comedy actor in a TV series.
She also said that “It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault,” telling Babe, “I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault. And that’s why I confronted so many of my friends and listened to what they had to say, because I wanted validation that it was actually bad.”
Dating and romance has long been a subject of much of Ansari’s standup routines. In 2015, the comedian wrote a book called “Modern Romance,” in which he explores dating in the digital world. He has also spoken openly about his parents arranged marriage and his own quest to find love.
Ansari touched on the subject of sexual misconduct during an episode of Master of None, which sees Dev (Ansari) and his friend making a citizen’s arrest after catching a man masturbating on the subway. The episode was inspired by a bit in his 2015 Madison Square Garden standup show, where he also spoke of the daily harassment women endure by men. During the second season of the series, actor Bobby Cannavale portrayed a chef and colleague of Dev’s who turned out to be a sexual harasser.
During a 2015 interview with the Daily Beast, Ansari spoke on the importance of speaking out against injustice.
“The problem is people aren’t talking about it. What I’ve learned, as a guy, is to just ask women questions and listen to what they have to say,” he said. “Go to your group of female friends and ask them about times they’ve experienced sexism at their job, and you’ll get blown away by the things they tell you. You’ll think, ‘What the f—? This is way darker than anything I’d imagined.’ “