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Peloton actress says she almost didn't do the Aviation Gin parody ad for Ryan Reynolds

Key Points
  • The star of a much-criticized Peloton ad gives her first live interview.
  • Monica Ruiz tells NBC's "TODAY" she didn't want to appear to be making fun of the Peloton spot by appearing in an Aviation Gin ad.
VIDEO1:3901:39
Peloton actress speaks out for first time on controversial commercial

The star of a much-criticized Peloton holiday ad told NBC on Thursday she was surprised at the sudden amount of criticism weeks after it first aired.

"It didn't really blow over as quickly as I thought it would," actress Monica Ruiz told "TODAY" in her first live interview since the ad went viral last week.

She joked that the criticism came down to her face. "It was my face, that was the problem," she said. "Oh no, my eyebrows, they moved!"

The ad rolled out early last month, imploring consumers to "give the gift of Peloton." Many viewers complained about what they saw as undertones of sexism and classism in the ad for the exercise company. Though the ad first ran on Nov. 4, it more recently became a hot topic on Twitter. According to iSpot.tv, the ad had run more than 8,800 times as of Thursday.

Amid the uproar, Ruiz appeared in an ad Friday for actor Ryan Reynolds' Aviation Gin, which seemed to mock the Peloton ad.

In the "TODAY" interview, Ruiz said she initially told her agent she didn't want to appear in the gin ad because she didn't want to appear to be making fun of the Peloton ad.

"I was like, 'Oh, I don't think so. I think it's going to look like I'm making fun of it,'" she said. "I had just an amazing experience when I shot the Peloton commercial. 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."

During the interview Thursday, "TODAY" brought out Reynolds to meet Ruiz for the first time.

The actor said when he first saw the Peloton ad, he thought of sending Ruiz a year's supply of gin. He said the idea evolved from there.

"We love acknowledging and playing with the cultural landscape. We thought this was a great opportunity to do something that ... you see how everything is sort of divisive these days," Reynolds said. "We had this thought that we could do this ad without contributing to that divide, without really vilifying anybody."

Ruiz said she hopes to continue to act in commercials and movies.

"I hope people can remember that I'm not actually the Peloton lady and let me work other jobs," she said.

Correction: An earlier version misstated the day of the NBC interview and of iSpot.tv's data. It was Thursday.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC are divisions of NBCUniversal.

VIDEO1:3401:34
Ryan Reynolds pokes fun at Peloton controversy by casting actress in new ad