Monica Ruiz, the actress in the famed holiday-themed Peloton ad that sparked controversy, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday morning to tell her side of the story after the commercial rocketed around the Internet earlier this month.
Ruiz, a mom of two, told Hoda Kotb that it was “crazy” to “see my face everywhere this much, and to have everyone continue to talk about it.”
On its surface, the Peloton ad, which featured Ruiz as “Grace in Boston,“ appeared to be innocuous enough: A man gives his wife an exercise bike, which she uses constantly, showing her gratitude a year later with a spliced-together home movie of herself on the bike. However, it sparked a slew of horrified and disgusted reactions from people online.
When Kotb asked Ruiz why she thought people were getting “spun up” about the ad, Ruiz replied: “I mean, honestly, I think it was just my face. It was my fault. My eyebrows looked like, worried, I guess? People were like, ‘She looks scared!’ ”
“I’m telling you — it was my face. That was the problem,” Ruiz continued. ”She looks worried. And I’m like, oh no, my eyebrows — they moved.”
“I guess a lot of people have Botox and stuff, and their eyebrows stay straight,” Kotb said, laughing.
“They’re not used to seeing it anymore. It’s too much!” Ruiz joked.
Kotb acknowledged that her show tried to get Ruiz on several times before the actress agreed.
“When it didn’t blow over, and people started answering for me, and I saw some articles where they grabbed some stuff from very old interviews, I was like, OK, I’ll just let everyone know I’m fine. I’m OK. I’m not in, like, a rehab for mental health anywhere.”
After the Peloton ad, Ruiz was asked to do a commercial for Ryan Reynolds’s alcohol company, Aviation American Gin. In the ad, Ruiz’s character is seen raising a martini glass, saying, “To new beginnings,” slugging the drink as a friend tells her, “You’re safe here.” Reynolds tweeted out the ad to his millions of followers.
Ruiz said that when Reynolds’s company reached out to her agent, she originally wanted to turn it down, saying, “I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think so. I think that it’s going to look like I’m making fun of it.’ I had such an amazing experience when I shot the Peloton commercial that I was like, I don’t want them to think that I’m going to make fun of them or say anything mean. But they assured me it was an idea that was just taking air out of the situation.”
Reynolds himself then appeared on the show, saying that his initial reaction to seeing the Peloton commercial was, “Can we just send her a year’s supply of gin?”
The actor said the idea for the gin commercial — which was created and produced within just 36 hours — evolved from talks with his creative partner about the backlash to the ad.
“You see how everything is sort of divisive these days — one camp here, one camp there,“ Reynolds said. “But we had this thought that we could do this ad without contributing to that divide, without really vilifying anybody, just sort of commenting both on the person and the actress in the ad all at once.”
Overall, the actress says she just wants to eventually put all the hullabaloo behind her: “I hope people can remember I’m not actually the Peloton lady, and let me work other jobs.”