In her first interview since receiving backlash for the ad that saw Ruiz’s character get the Peloton exercise bike from her husband for Christmas and subsequently document her year-long journey with it, the actress opened up about the unexpected online criticism and how she has been coping.
“I kinda stopped reading [the negative comments], thinking, ‘It’s gonna blow over,’ but it didn’t really blow over as quickly as I thought it would,” Ruiz told Hoda Kotb on Thursday’s episode of the Today show.
The 30-second commercial starts with a husband surprising his wife with the brand’s $2,245 (and up) stationary bike on Christmas morning. She then goes for her first ride, admitting she’s “a little nervous, but excited.”
Subsequent scenes see the wife rushing in the door after work to get her workout in, and waking up at 6 a.m. to do the same. “A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me,” she says at the end of the ad, as she and her husband sit on a couch and watch video footage of her workouts from the past year. “Thank you.”
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“It was my face that was my problem,” Monica Ruiz, actress in viral Peloton ad, jokes about why the commercial went viral and explains why she wanted to share her story pic.twitter.com/KdqrcYO7bS— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 12, 2019
The commercial quickly went viral after its release last month, with many people opining that the storyline was “sexist” and that the wife looked afraid.
Ruiz blamed herself in part, telling Kotb, “Honestly, I think it was just my face. It was my fault! My eyebrows looked worried, I guess? People were like, ‘You look scared.’ I’m telling you, it was my face, that was the problem, and then it just exploded it from there. She looks worried and I’m like, ‘Oh no, my eyebrows. They move!’ “
“I kept feeling like there were two camps. Some people thought that it was a really big deal and other people thought it was no big deal, so I was like, ‘Maybe I should just wait for it to blow over and then it won’t seem like I’m trying to keep myself in the press and in the news,'” the actress said.
But Ruiz explained that her tune changed “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,” she continued. “I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll just let everyone know I’m fine. I’m okay, I’m not in a rehab for mental health anywhere.'”
Monica Ruiz was asked to be in a commercial for @VancityReynolds’ gin company after the Peloton commercial she starred in went viral, and she had never met Ryan … until today! pic.twitter.com/pkq6Go3alM— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 12, 2019
RELATED VIDEO: See Peloton’s Christmas Commercial That’s Currently Causing Controversy on the Internet
As for her decision to star in a commercial for Ryan Reynolds‘ Aviation Gin, which hilariously made light of the stressful Peloton aftermath, Ruiz was hesitant at first because she “had such an amazing experience when I shot the Peloton commercial,” but she was unsure of doing another ad so soon and what Peloton would think of the comical gin spot.
“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 that it was just an idea that was just taking air out of the situation,” she said.
Reynolds, 43, then joined the interview alongside Ruiz (their first time meeting!), telling Kotb, 55, that the idea “started with a text to my creative partner.”
After the actor watched the viral Peloton commercial he said he could “see why there’s some backlash.”
“I went, ‘Oh wow, okay, I see why there’s some backlash.’ And I said, ‘Can we just send her a year supply of gin? She doesn’t have to film herself,’ ” Reynolds joked. “And then it evolved from there.”
“We love acknowledging and playing with the cultural landscape and we thought this was a great opportunity. Everything is sort of divisive these days — one camp here, one camp there. But we had this thought that we could do this ad without contributing to that divide, without vilifying anybody, just commenting on both the person and the actress in the ad all at once,” Reynolds explained. “So for us it seemed like a no-brainer, and it was a lot of fun to do, and it was a rush — I mean, we did this thing in 36 hours.”
For Ruiz, the experience has made her feel like she’s “in an alternate universe.” But as she told Kotb, “I hope people can just see me as an actress, ’cause that’s what I am — I like to do movies and TV, commercials — so I hope people can remember that I’m not actually the Peloton lady and let me work other jobs!”