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Carlos PenaVega: An Inside Look At His Life And Career

Despite having a shady side, the Hallmark Channel and its stars have a devoted fan base made up of millions of fans who can't get enough of the network's signature romantic movies, especially those related to Christmas. Among the Hallmark Channel's most popular actors are some real-life couples, including Carlos and Alexa PenaVega. Their marriage has been going strong for years and their sweet romance could be the basis for its own Hallmark rom-com.

However, despite growing up in the spotlight and continuing to work in Hollywood, they've managed to keep their personal life away from prying eyes. The couple has always been selective about how much they share with the public, although that changed in June 2022 with the publication of "What If Love Is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self-Consumed World." The intimate and very detailed memoir offers fans a new look at the PenaVegas' home life. In it, both Carlos and his wife make plenty of surprising revelations and we've rounded them up below, along with a slew of other facts you may not know about the actor. These are the Carlos PenaVega facts that all fans need to know but many will be surprised to learn.

Carlos PenaVega struggled with fame

Finding fame at a young age can be challenging, as Carlos PenaVega learned firsthand following his big break on "Big Time Rush." The show aired on Nickelodeon from 2009 to 2013 and made PenaVega a television star. Unfortunately, while it earned him money and status, it didn't truly fulfill him. As he shared in his and wife Alexa PenaVega's joint 2022 memoir, "What If Love Is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self-Consumed World," he had a fancy house, expensive cars, plenty of money, and loads of fans and yet, that wasn't enough. "I was empty and I didn't know what it was that I was missing," he recalled. The Nickelodeon star ended up making some choices he would look back on with regret. "I tried to fill that void with girlfriends, toys, houses, whatever was new on Amazon and eventually weed," he shared. And when Big Time Rush went on tour in 2011, he got into alcohol. "I'd never been a big drinker but that summer I drank a lot," he wrote.

Making matters worse was his breakup from Samantha Droke in 2012. At the time, the actor told fans, per Just Jared Jr, "I'm still sad about it, but it's all good." However, it wasn't all good. In fact, the split hit him hard and marked a major turning point. "When Sam and I broke up, and I spiraled downward, I had a reality check," he wrote, sharing how he finally realized his vices were never going to be the key to his happiness.

A phone call changed Carlos PenaVega's life

It was the early 2010s and Carlos PenaVega knew he needed a change. He was 23 and had just come off a tour that proved to be toxic. As he told Sports Spectrum in 2022, "It was the first tour that I was single, I did some things that I'm not necessarily proud of and I came home and I was in a really dark place." That's when he called one of his oldest friends, Andrew Mortaza, and asked him how he was always so happy. "He said, 'Jesus,' and I immediately hung up the phone," PenaVega recalled. Though the "Big Time Rush" alum grew up with religion, it was not really his thing. Mortaza stayed persistent, however, and eventually got PenaVega to agree to go to church with him. PenaVega not only ended up connecting with the bishop's sermon, but decided to change his life entirely. "I left that church that day and I committed myself to God 100%," he shared.

What's more, that phone call also led him to meet his future wife, Alexa PenaVega. As they told The War Cry, Mortaza (who was friends with both of them) was sure they'd be a great match. Then, one day, they met at his Bible study group and it turned out he was right. As Alexa wrote on Facebook, he changed their lives. "You not only brought Los and I together but you gave us so much encouragement and wisdom through God's word," she enthused.

How Carlos Pena became Carlos PenaVega

Before Carlos and Alexa became known as the PenaVegas, they were actually Alexa Vega and Carlos Pena, Jr. When it came time to unite, the pair lucked out — not only because their last names came together so nicely, but because they did not run into any clerical speed bumps. As they told Mario Lopez in 2018 (via Feeling the Vibe), they headed to the courthouse in Ventura County, California, ahead of their January 2014 nuptials in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and, to their surprise, they were allowed to choose whatever last name they pleased. That's when the PenaVegas were born. As Alexa told The War Cry, it all fell together perfectly. "We couldn't figure out whose last name we would use, so we put them together and thought, 'Huh, it works,'" she shared.

Meanwhile, Carlos told Lopez that they had thought about putting their last names together in the past but they were not sure they could do so legally. When they realized the clerk on duty had no qualms about them presenting a new last name, they went for it. "We sent the paper over, got it stamped, and I shouted 'We're PenaVegas!'" he laughed.

Carlos PenaVega had second thoughts about fatherhood

Carlos and Alexa PenaVega love their little family and, even after three kids, they're open to growing it. The couple welcomed son Ocean in December 2016, followed by son Kingston James in July 2019, and daughter Rio in May 2021. Just a year later, they told Us Weekly they wouldn't mind a fourth because, as Alexa mused, "The world needs more kids who can be a light to others." However, that doesn't mean parenthood has been easy. As Alexa told the outlet, being a mom has its challenges and no one is perfect. "I'd like to say no I don't lose it or I'm always collected, but the truth is I get frustrated," she shared.

Carlos agreed and he's been honest about the hardships on multiple occasions. In 2017, he told ET, "I appreciate my parents a lot more too because you see how much time and effort you have to put into this new human." It's a sentiment he honed in on in the couple's 2022 memoir, "What If Love Is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self-Consumed World." Recalling the months after they first had Ocean, the actor admitted, per Us Weekly, he felt "overwhelmed" by fatherhood and all of the responsibilities that came with it. He even confessed to having second thoughts about their decision to become parents. As for what the trickiest part is, Carlos told fans on Facebook, "Making time for each other — it's really hard."

He's reworked roles to better fit his faith

As Carlos and Alexa PenaVega found each other and their faith, the way they approached acting slowly changed. Speaking with The War Cry, Carlos revealed that faith plays a major role in the projects he chooses, and it's even forced him to edit some parts. "I can't tell you how many times I get onto a project and have to have the conversation of me saying there are certain phrases or profanity that I'm not comfortable with," he revealed. But it's not just about him and his beliefs, it's also about who's tuning in. "If kids are watching it, we definitely don't need to curse and set bad examples for young children," he told the outlet. That's why both he and Alexa only want to work on movies that are inspirational, positive, and uplifting.

However, it's not just faith that guides their decisions, it's also family. As they shared with ET in 2017, they've had to turn down roles altogether to minimize their time apart. As they explained, they won't ever take on work at the same time, that way they can always travel together, even if it means putting career second. "We do miss out on some really great opportunities because of that, but I think that with any marriage, the key to a successful marriage is sacrifice," Carlos said.

Why Carlos PenaVega moved away from Hollywood

In another example of putting their family ahead of their careers, Carlos and Alexa PenaVega decided to leave Hollywood behind and raise their kids in Hawaii. Carlos had actually been wanting to move there for years, per ET, but Alexa was hesitant to leave Los Angeles. However, as he told The War Cry, that changed when she was pregnant with their first child. "We were trying to find a new city to move to because we just weren't happy with the area and the schools near us," he recalled. So he suggested Maui once again and this time, she agreed.

Not only was Alexa excited about offering her kids a more unplugged lifestyle filled with nature, but both Carlos and Alexa no longer felt like they belonged in Hollywood. As Carlos told People, it was just too fast-paced and didn't line up with his priorities. "I couldn't relate to people who didn't necessarily agree with the way I wanted to live my life," he said. Maui, on the other hand, had plenty of young couples who shared their faith and values. They made the move in 2017 and as Carlos told the mag, it immediately felt like home. "We can really recharge here and it's been awesome to have a community that's supportive," he enthused. Alexa agreed, adding, "The L.A. mentality is work hard, play hard. We're all about working hard, but first and foremost, it's our faith and our family."

He's had a complicated relationship with his brothers

Before he became a professional actor, Carlos PenaVega was an aspiring child star, living in Weston, Florida. In a 2012 South Florida Sun Sentinel interview, he shared that his parents played a big part in getting his career off the ground. His father worked full time and supported the family, while his mother was there to take him to auditions. "I was so fortunate that my dad could work and my mom would make time to take me where I needed to be," he said. 

As Carlos revealed in his and Alexa PenaVega's 2022 memoir, "What If Love Is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self-Consumed World," he fell in love with acting in middle school. Eventually, he scored commercial work but he had his sights set on landing a TV show. "As awesome as it was for my younger brothers and friends to catch me on-screen in a commercial, a little seed of possibility had been planted in my heart," he wrote.

Unfortunately, as his career continued on, his relationships with his three brothers went through some rough patches. That said, all hope is not lost. As Alexa wrote in their joint memoir, they turned to their faith and saw things move in a positive direction. "Over the last year or two, Carlos's brothers have, individually, reached out to reconnect with him," she shared. "It's been beautiful to see those relationships being strengthened."

Carlos PenaVega's simple secret to a good marriage

Carlos and Alexa PenaVega have been happily married since 2014, so it's no surprise they're often asked about the secret to a long-lasting marriage. Their key to success is actually quite simple: talking. As Carlos told E! News in 2020, "We communicate. I know that seems so corny." That said, they're also honest about the fact that all unions, no matter how perfect they may seem, have their ups and downs. As Carlos wrote in "What If Love Is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self-Consumed World," "Some days we are better at marriage than others, better at prioritizing and being intentional, and some days we suck at it."

Their other big secret is making their marriage a top priority, even if that means turning down opportunities. "We can't really relate to other relationships in our industry where one of them is constantly jetting off for another gig," Carlos said to The War Cry. He explained, "I believe being in a relationship, especially a marriage, you have to find time to be together." Indeed, nothing is more important than family and, as he told Megyn Kelly in 2022, that's why he decided to take his wife and kids on tour when he hit the road with Big Time Rush that June. "My goal is that we can really show people the beauty of marriage again," he gushed, arguing that you can pursue your passions and have a great home life.