Actress and so-called “Peloton lady” Monica Ruiz has a message for the world: She’s OK. Really.
The star of Peloton’s controversial holiday ad broke her silence on Thursday in an exclusive interview with TODAY‘s Hoda Kotb. It was Ruiz’s first public interview since starring as an overjoyed (or terrified) wife in the Peloton ad, which went viral earlier this month.
“I hope that people can just see me as an actress,” Ruiz said. “I hope people can remember that I’m not actually the Peloton lady.”
Ruiz said she’s been overwhelmed by the backlash she’s seen since the ad went viral earlier this month.
“Some of it was really negative,” she told TODAY.
The ad depicts Ruiz as an already-fit mother who is over-the-moon thrilled when her husband buys her a Peloton bike for Christmas. She records her year-long fitness journey as a vlog, then gives the video to her husband at their next Christmas as thanks for “changing” her life.
Critics accused the ad of sexism, while others interpreted Ruiz’s performance as that of a woman trying to white-knuckle her way through a case of emotional abuse.
Ruiz says she initially shunned the attention that came with the ad, but she opted to sit down with TODAY because she wanted to tell her side of things.
“People started answering for me,” Ruiz said. “I thought OK, I’ll just let everyone know I’m fine. I’m OK, I’m not in rehab for mental health.”
Ruiz thinks she’s figured out why everyone responded so strongly to the ad.
“It was my face, that was the problem,” she said. “My eyebrows looked, like, worried, I guess?”
Peloton defended the ad in a statement last week. However, the company’s stock price has tumbled amid the viral backlash. A report published by Citron Research on Tuesday suggested its stock could plunge by nearly 85 per cent, bringing it down to just US$5 a share.
Peloton’s stock was valued at $29 when it went public in December, and it was nearly US$37 on Dec. 2. The stock was trading at $30.92 on Thursday.
Ruiz also addressed her decision to appear in a backdoor “sequel” to the Peloton ad for Aviation Gin, Ryan Reynolds‘ liquor brand. The ad showed Ruiz sitting between two friends who comfort her and tell her everything will be OK, while she quickly chugs a martini glass full of gin.
Ruiz says she worried the ad would insult Peloton. However, she said Reynolds’ staff assured her that it was “just taking air out of the situation.”
Reynolds joined Ruiz at the tail end of the interview to explain where the ad came from.
“We love acknowledging and playing with the cultural landscape, and we thought this was an opportunity to do something,” he said.
Reynolds says the whole commercial came together in 36 hours. However, he thought it would be a good way to touch on the controversy without picking a side.
“We had this thought that we could do this ad without … vilifying anybody,” he said.
Ruiz met Reynolds for the first time during the interview.
“I’m living in an alternate universe right now,” she said. “This is so weird.”