Alexa and Carlos PenaVega on Leaving L.A. for a Christian Life in Hawaii: We've Never Fit the Mold
The Mighty Oak stars wanted "a place to go and reconnect" Alexa PenaVega tells PEOPLE
The former child star, 32, and the actor-singer, 31, relocated from Los Angeles to Maui in 2017 in hopes of finding a sense of community and serenity. “When we were living in California, there was never actually a break. The industry happens 24/7,” Alexa tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. “And we thought, we need a place to go and reconnect and that needs to be our home.”
Despite having both grown up in the industry — Alexa starred in the Spy Kids franchise in the early 2000s and Carlos fronted Big Time Rush, a boy band with a Nickelodeon series that ran from 2009-13 —the couple felt “we’ve never fit the Hollywood mold,” Alexa says. “We've never done things in the conventional way.”
Most Hollywood love stories don’t begin with meeting at Bible study either, like Carlos and Alexa’s did. “We started our entire relationship grounded in our faith,” Carlos says.
The pair went on to run a Bible study group out of their house in California, got engaged in September 2013 and married four months later, at which time they combined their last names. "We were literally at the county office in Ventura signing all the paperwork and the woman was like, 'Whose last name?' " Carlos recalls. "I said, "Let's see if this works. Carlos and Alexa PenaVega. Just one word.' "
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After Carlos and Alexa’s Monday night Bible study group stopped meeting and they welcomed their first son, Ocean, in 2016, the duo noticed just how much their priorities differed from their L.A. peers. “We still have fantastic friends who live there, but most of them don't have kids and aren't married,” Alexa says. Adds Carlos, “I couldn't relate to people who didn't necessarily agree with the way I wanted to live my life.”
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That realization coupled with a “disastrous” house purchase in California caused the PenaVegas to permanently make a move. “We visited Maui and we started finding all of these young Christian couples,” Carlos says. “We prayed on it and then we moved here three months later.”
In the years since, they've found what they’d been for looking for in Hawaii. “We immediately felt that weight lifted,” Alexa says. “We can really recharge here and it's been awesome to have a community that's supportive.”
The PenaVegas added a new member to that community in June 2019 with the arrival of son Kingston. “As a mom, I was so worried. Ocean was my first child, how was he going to react?” Alexa says of their 3-year-old becoming an older brother. “But Kingston’s obsessed. And whatever Ocean does, Kingston does.”
Keeping their family close is the reason Alexa and Carlos like working together so much. They competed against one another on Dancing with the Stars in 2015, recently starred in indie drama Mighty Oak (out now on digital) and the latest installment of their Hallmark series Picture Perfect Mysteries, one of their many projects with the network, airs Sunday.
“Getting to work together enables us to bring the family everywhere,” explains Carlos, adding that he and his wife also plan to launch a podcast soon with their Cross Your Heart company.
Despite all they have going on at home and with everything happening in the world, Alexa and Carlos finally feel settled in.
“I've never been in one place for more than three or four months. I didn't know how badly we needed as a family to set our roots,” Alexa says. “It's given us a chance to create those routines with our family. 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.”
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