Carlos and Alexa PenaVega practically grew up in the spotlight. Alexa (née Vega) got her first Hollywood role at age eight and was just 12 years old when she starred in the original Spy Kids movie. Carlos (né Pena), meanwhile, rose to fame as a member of the boy band Big Time Rush and the Nickelodeon sitcom of the same name.
Despite the early success, the couple each struggled to find greater meaning in their life. At the urging of a mutual friend, they serendipitously attended the same Bible study in California in 2012 and the rest is history. On Thursday’s show, the PenaVegas joined Megyn to discuss their marriage and faith and how it has helped them stay grounded and wholesome in Hollywood.
Pop Culture Then vs. Now
Once upon a time, Alexa was a part of family-friendly films like the aforementioned Spy Kids. Big Time Rush helped revitalize the boy band genre with their four-part harmonies and synchronized dancing, which, as Megyn pointed out, is quaint in comparison to where the entertainment industry is now. “It actually feels so much more wholesome to me,” she said. “I’d much rather have my child watching… You put on Spotify today and you hit ‘Today’s Hits’ and it’s like ‘effing, effing, effing, effing, and n-word, n-word, n-word.'”
Big Time Rush is back on the road and recording new music, and Carlos admitted that he’s had to learn how to balance today’s pop music standards with his own values. “There’s four guys in my group… we’re writing a lot of music, but it’s definitely a battle,” he shared. “I mean, I’m really the only believer, and our lifestyle is very different from their lifestyle.” At times, he’s found himself having to stand up for his beliefs. “I love them, but I’m very much alone in this,” he said. “I’m constantly being like, ‘Well, can we not say this in the song, but can we say this?’ ‘Can we not do this, but can we do this?’”
As Megyn noted, you don’t have to look much further than former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus to see how a wholesome image can evolve over time. “It makes me sad because, as the years go by, I feel like the bar of what is okay keeps getting raised,” Carlos said. “The stuff that they’re allowed to say on cable television, I’m like, ‘How can they say that?’”
Another example? The 2020 Super Bowl halftime show performance with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. “I saw lady parts as I watched the Super Bowl with my then-six year old,” Megyn recalled. “I did not need to see that; I did not need my son to see that.” What she found hard to understand was the point of the vulgarity. “They’re great dancers, performers, and singers, why does it have to be truly almost X-rated,” she asked.
Alexa agreed. “When I see girls kind of go in this direction, I’m like, ‘I don’t know who’s pushing you to do this stuff, but you don’t need to,” she said. “You have talent, and that speaks for itself.”
Finding Faith in Hollywood
As Megyn sees it, many of these changes in what’s socially acceptable correlate to changes in faithfulness. “That’s what’s so crazy about our society right now – forgive me – but there’s more vag in the public square and there’s less God,” she lamented.
For the PenaVegas, it all comes back to their faith. “I will say this, you read the Bible, you’re looking at the Old Testament, and it’s not very different than what’s going on today,” Alexa noted. “I mean, you had all of this stuff happening back then, it’s just we have social media now.”
Familiarizing herself with Scripture has helped her navigate life in and out of Hollywood, and she recommended others give it a try. “I loved The Hunger Games, and I remember reading them and just being so enthralled, so excited about it, and I felt the same way about reading the Bible through,” Alexa shared. “It felt like I was reading some crazy adventure book – the stories are amazing… and I get excited about reading the Bible.”
Megyn and Carlos both admitted that they struggle to read the Bible. Megyn, for one, has been listening to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast, and Alexa had some advice for others who might be looking for someplace to start. “Make sure you find [a Bible] that’s easier for you to read, even if you have to just start with the message version,” she said. “Start there and then grow.”
You can check out Megyn’s full show with the PenaVegas by tuning in to episode 357 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.