Meeting people in the craziness of Hollywood can be difficult, but for Hallmark stars Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, they met and fell in love completely by chance. Over the years, the couple has set an incredible example of what it looks like to put your family first and your career second.
Carlos PenaVegas (born Carlos Pena Jr) grew up in Florida with a love of performing early on. He was passionate about singing and dancing which inspired him to go to Los Angeles to try and make it in Hollywood. His first few gigs included roles on TV shows like ER, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Judging Amy, and Summerland, but his big break came a couple of years later when he landed a lead role on the Nickelodeon series Big Time Rush. The show was about a fictional boy band which was perfect for Carlos who also helped write some of the songs for his bandmates.
As for Alexa Penavega (born Alexa Vega), she got started in Hollywood as a young child. She appeared in Nine Months, Twister, and more before her big break came starring as Carmen Cortez in the Spy Kids franchise. Alexa had already been married once when she met Carlos, to producer Sean Covel. But she met Carlos at a Bible study in Los Angeles, definitely not looking for love.
"We were just friends first, and I think that's key," Alexa told Southern Living.
"You should just throw out your 'no' list. Crumble it up, because I put myself in this bubble thinking, I come from this crazy, Hispanic family so I'll never date a Latin guy, ever because my family is crazy enough. I'll never date a singer or an actor because you know, most of those guys are conceited and have huge egos. At the time I was like only dating super tall people. So, nobody under 6 feet. Carlos missed all of those marks. It was pretty crazy. Who would have thought that I would love this singing, fiery, Latino boy?"
Carlos quickly won Alexis's heart and the couple married in 2013 in Mexico, combining their last names to show they are equal partners in their marriage. Carlos even designed the engagement ring himself! Over the years, the couple has gotten to appear on screen together numerous times. They were even contestants on Dancing With The Stars at the same time. But after starting a family together, they wanted to get their priorities right. They are currently parents to Ocean King and Kingston James and announced in 2020 that a third child is on the way. Luckily, working with the Hallmark Channel has provided the ultimate amount of flexibility for their family. They've appeared in multiple films together on the network including Love at Sea, the Picture Perfect Mysteries, and Enchanted Christmas.
"This industry was not built for families. If anything, it's the opposite. You leave for six months, usually the family stays behind. And it's really hard. I don't know how you raise kids that way. I don't know how you keep a marriage strong that way," Alexa told Southern Living.
"We always said, if we can, we're going to work together on every project. And if we can't then the other one will not take a project. And we'll just tag along. That way family is never separated. Hallmark has just been so accommodating with that and anytime there's an opportunity for us to work together, they bring it up. And if there isn't, they fly the whole family out and we're together anyway."
After welcoming their first child Ocean, the couple started to realize that they really weren't finding what they wanted in Los Angeles. The industry was constantly buzzing and as a family grounded in their faith, they were surrounded by people who didn't necessarily understand the way they wanted to live their lives. So Alexa and her husband Carlos decided to go out and find a place to live that felt like them.
"We visited Maui and we started finding all of these young Christian couples," Carlos told People. "We prayed on it and then we moved here three months later."
Hawaii turned out to be exactly what the PenaVegas were looking for. "We immediately felt that weight lifted," Alexa added. "We can really recharge here and it's been awesome to have a community that's supportive."