The actress and model who starred in the now infamous Peloton holiday commercial is a happily married mother-of-two who once planned on being a teacher.
California-based actress Monica Ruiz – who played the ‘Peloton Wife’ in the recently released exercise bike commercial – said that she majored in sociology in college because she wanted to be an elementary school teacher.
Ruiz, who graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2004, said that she first started modeling in high school, doing some catalog work, but didn’t last long doing it.
Actress and model Monica Ruiz stars in the controversial Peloton holiday commercial
Ruiz (pictured) played the wife who received a Peloton bike for the holidays and spent the next year documenting her use of it as a thank you to her husband
Ruiz said that she was ‘shocked and overwhelmed by the attention’ – much of it negative – from the commercial. Ruiz is pictured here getting ready for a photo shoot
Ruiz is seen here with one of her two children with husband Christopher O’Malley
‘I really liked it but I was very shy in front of the camera,’ Ruiz said in a 2004 interview with IGN.
‘I decided it wasn’t for me until college, when I realized that I should have pursued it more because of the great opportunities to travel and meet so many different kinds of people. I decided to give it another shot, because I knew if I didn’t, I’d regret it when I was older.’
Although it appears the decision to return to modeling might ave waylaid her teaching aspirations, she has had plenty of success modeling, landing multiple advertising campaigns and magazine covers over the years.
She has been featured in a variety of print and online campaigns for companies including Speedo, Lee Jeans, Nordstrom and Volkswagon.
Aside from appearing in commercials, Ruiz (pictured) has a healthy career as a model, appearing in a variety of advertisements for stores and brands including Target and Gap
Ruiz, a married mother-of-two, also spent time as a maternity model when she was pregnant
Ruiz is seen here in a maternity ad for Target. It is one of several ads she shot while pregnant
Ruiz, a California native who played high school volleyball and basketball, worked with Speedo
Ruiz is pictured here with her husband, Christopher O’Malley, who she married in 2013
Ruiz went on to marry husband Christopher O’Malley in Hermosa Beach, California, in September 2013, according to Heavy. They now have two children together.
Instead of taking a break while pregnant, though, Ruiz parlayed her fecundity into a new modeling division – maternity modeling.
During her pregnancies, Ruiz was featured in Target ads, modeled maternity wear for Gap and landed on the cover of Pregnancy and Newborn.
Ruiz told IGN she enjoyed modeling because ‘I just love the transformation models can go through. Makeup and hair can make you feel like a different person, and its fun.’
Ruiz has also enjoyed a healthy on-screen career, starring in a variety of commercials for brands including Rent-A-Center and Herbal Essences.
Ruiz has a variety of TV credits from guest appearances on TV shows including Baby Daddy (pictured), as well as The Exes and The Game
Ruiz often features pictures of herself and her children on the beach on Instagram
Ruiz is shown here hugging one of her children in a snapshot that she posted on Instagram
According to her IMDb credits, she made her TV series debut in 2009 in an episode of BET’s The Game. She then went on to make guest appearances on a handful of series between 2014 and 2015.
Among the shows she appeared on were NBC’s About a Boy, TVLand’s The Exes and Freeform’s Baby Daddy.
In early September, Ruiz filmed the now infamous Peloton commercial, titled The Gift That Gives Back, in which a she played a wife who receives a stationary bike from her husband on Christmas morning.
In the ad, Ruiz documented her year-long fitness journey in a series of videos that she compiled into a thank you video for her husband.
The ad made its first appearance in late November. But, by early December – much to Ruiz and costar Sean Hunter’s surprise, viewers had begun to lambaste the ad on social media, calling it sexist, misogynistic, humiliating and cringeworthy.
In a statement to Deadline, Ruiz said of the commercial: ‘I was happy to accept a job opportunity earlier this year from Peloton and the team was lovely to work with. Although I’m an actress, I am not quite comfortable being in spotlight and I’m terrible on social media.So to say I was shocked and overwhelmed by the attention this week (especially the negative) is an understatement.’
The commercial controversy and Ruiz’s sudden notoriety drew the attention of Ryan Reynolds, who tapped her to star in a cheeky commercial for his Aviation Gin company, titled The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back.
Ruiz had a very active career as a maternity model while she was pregnant with her children
Ruiz is seen here in a maternity and yoga-themed advertisement for Target
As a model, Ruiz also landed on the cover of magazines including Parents (pictured)
Ruiz posted this picture of a maternity-themed online shopping catalog image for Gap
In the gin ad, released Friday, Ruiz stares blankly into the camera for some time, before it’s revealed that she’s sitting at a bar enjoying a drink with her friends.
The ad, which appears to be positioned as a continuation of the Peloton ad, sees Ruiz proclaiming that ‘This gin is really smooth,’ as her friends say, ‘You’re safe here.’
After toasting each other, Ruiz says, ‘To new beginnings,’ before draining her glass. One of her friends then slides her glass over to Ruiz and says ‘it’s gonna be a fun night.’
The commercial wraps up with a shot of Aviation Gin and a voice over of a character saying, ‘You look great, by the way,’ a statement which is being seen as a dig at the the Peloton ad.
When sharing the ad with his fans, Reynolds tweeted: ‘Exercise bike not included.’
About the gin commercial opportunity, Ruiz told Deadline, that ‘When Ryan and his production team called about Aviation Gin, they helped me find some humor in the situation. I am grateful to both Peloton and now Aviation Gin for the work and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do.’
Vancouver-based actor and elementary school teacher Sean Hunter, who played the ‘Peloton Husband’ to Ruiz’s Peloton Wife, has said that he is puzzled by the criticism of the ad.
When the ad first debuted in late November, Hunter told CTV News Thursday that he got ‘ positive feedback from my friends and family,’ as well as from his acting coach.
But, ‘Once it went viral, it really turned negative and I was getting a lot of feedback. People would make up additional storylines on what was happening. And they’re all just made up stories. I just didn’t understand why people would do that.’
Hunter said that he has ‘big mixed feelings about it, especially with all the negative feedback.’
Despite this, Hunter has made light of the controversy via his Instagram – pelotonhusband – posting quips about how he should’ve kept the receipt for the exercise bike, in addition to a screengrab of Ruiz’s gin ad and a follow up, in-character image with the caption: ‘Still waiting for #pelotonwife to come home… have you seen her?’