Actor Mike Colter has apologized after initially joking about disturbing footage that appears to show a preacher inappropriately touching Ariana Grande during Aretha Franklin’s funeral.
Colter, known for his starring role in Netflix’s “Luke Cage,” initially responded to the video by writing on Twitter, “Now THIS is how you shoot your shot! Zero F---!” Colter’s post, which reportedly included a number of laughing emojis, was in response to a video of the incident shared by “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, who wrote in the caption, "What was up with that pastor’s hand?”
The footage has sparked a slew of backlash online, and prompted an apology from Bishop Charles H. Ellis III. Colter’s post attracted its own share of backlash, however, prompting him to delete his original comment and issue an apology, Deadline reports.
“Hello all. I apologize about my tweet earlier,” he wrote. “In no way do I condone any such behavior. It was intended to point out the absurdity of the act itself. Complete and biting sarcasm. I realized quickly that it was not taken as such.”
His apology was delayed, he explained, because “[he] was at an event all day.”
That post was also later deleted.
During Aretha Franklin’s star-studded funeral on Friday, Grande performed Franklin’s hit, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Following Grande’s performance, Ellis joined her on stage, putting his arm around her and touching her in a way that many viewers considered inappropriate. The uncomfortable moment during Friday’s funeral led to furious online debate and sparked the #RespectAriana hashtag.
Ellis later apologized for the incident during an interview with the Associated Press.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. ... I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He added, “I hug all the female artists and the male artists. Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”
[Photo: Mike Colter attends the “Luke Cage” Season 2 premiere at The Edison Ballroom on June 21, 2018 in New York City. By Steven Ferdman/FilmMagic via Getty Images; Ariana Grande speaks with Bishop Charles Ellis III after performing at the funeral for Aretha Franklin at the Greater Grace Temple on August 31, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. By Olson/Getty Images]