Maya Moore swears she's been preparing for the role of Betty Lou her entire life.
The WNBA Finals MVP and two-time champion for the Minnesota Lynx, who starred at UConn, has branched out into acting in Pepsi's Uncle Drew ad campaign that features Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving. The spots debuted at the start of the NBA season. In the viral video, Moore plays an older woman who is the sister of Nate Robinson's character. It was a role she was a natural at.
"I've always done a really good old lady for some reason," Moore said. "I'm a little actress at heart. I love to perform and make people laugh and definitely have been practicing that old lady persona for a while. I have an old soul in many ways."
The 24-year-old joked that her teammates in college and the pros have called her bag lady so the Betty Lou character was something she excelled at.
"I'm pretty slow off the court and I take my time and generally have a lot of bags," she said laughing. "It was a full circle moment."
Moore's acting days go back to third grade when she performed in a rendition of Hamlet, playing the ghost of Hamlet's father.
"I had to make this creepy voice, but it was a lot of fun," Moore recalled. "I was really excited about it."
Moore is one of the rare WNBA players who has been able to cross over into a mainstream commercial, joining the likes of Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi. But most of their commercials came with existing league partners.
It was a strong year for the league in general. Ratings were up, including the opening weekend game between Chicago and Phoenix which had the highest viewership in nearly a decade. Moore's foray into acting is just another venue for her.
"Showcasing talent is what the WNBA is all about," WNBA president Laurel Richie said. "Maya Moore is a two-time WNBA champion and this year's finals MVP. In this video, her many fans will now have the opportunity to see her perform in a different venue, and I am sure they will be just as entertained."
Moore had a blast on the set working with Irving and Nate Robinson. The NBA players were equally impressed with her.
"This was the first time I actually got to have a conversation with her," Irving said. "You know she's a great girl, very, very, very competitive. You know once she got out there, it was kind of like her being at home. She doesn't have a problem playing against guys. She's a talent."
Moore impressed the crowd, many of whom didn't know who she was when the commercial was being filmed in Chicago. The highlight though was her dunk, which only took one take.
"That was one of the best parts of the commercial," Moore said. "It was fun to feel that energy from the crowd. Hopefully we'll have some outtakes that will be seen."
It's been a great year for Moore, who helped guide the Minnesota Lynx to their second title in three seasons. She's now over in China playing in that league once again and her team is 6-0.
"There's a lot of talent over there," Moore said. "The best centers in the world are going over there. It was a very interesting journey last year."
There also may be many new Betty Lou fans in China.
"They are going to love it even more. I hope Betty Lou doesn't get more popular than me," Moore said laughing and breaking into the Betty Lou voice. "People might demand more Betty Lou than me. Some fat pads and grey wigs, they might not let me be me."
On the web: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spDdO_ZB-lE
AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen in Chicago contributed to this report.
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