Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari opened up Monday about what he’s learned since being accused of sexual misconduct more than a year ago.
“It’s a terrifying thing to talk about,” Ansari told a crowd of 200 people at New York City’s Village Underground, 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.”
Last year, the website Babe.net published a controversial account from a woman named only as Grace who alleged Ansari didn’t pick on “verbal and non-verbal cues” during their date that she was uncomfortable engaging in sexual intercourse with him.
Ansari subsequently issued a statement saying he was “surprised and concerned” about the allegation but maintained he was would continue to support the #MeToo movement.
“After a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward,” Ansari told the crowd on Monday.
“It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person,” said Ansari, who had mostly retreated from the public eye since the scandal.
“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 continued.
The reporter behind the Ansari story, Katie Way, was criticized over the story for not following traditional reporting practices and instead editorializing parts of the piece. Others accused Babe.net and Way of rushing to publish an allegation against a prominent celebrity at the height of the #MeToo movement.
“I didn’t write about a celebrity’s misconduct because I wanted to put a journalistic notch in my belt or participate in a trend,” Way told BuzzFeed News in December, defending her decision to cover the story.
Way no longer covers Hollywood and instead reports on the cannabis industry. “I’ve never really wanted to be a journalist who had access to celebrities,” Way said, “and I no longer think I would get access to a lot of celebrities if I did try to pursue that realm.”
At Monday’s show, Ansari said he there was a time when he thought he’d never be able to do comedy again.
The comedian said he used to say, “Thanks so much!” to people for attending his show, but never really meant it. “But now, I really mean it. I mean it on a different level,” he said.
“You did all this shit just to hear me talk for an hour and some change, and it means the world to me,” he said, “so thank you so much.”