After Matthew McConaughey and Ariel Winter left Hollywood, Hallmark’s Alexa PenaVega explains why her family left too

Celebrities have been leaving Hollywood for years, but this trend has really accelerated in the age of the pandemic. Chris Hemsworth and Matthew McConaughey were pre-pandemic defectors from Los Angeles, but in recent years, Ariel Winter left Hollywood for the other coastas have other celebrities, including James Van Der Beek, who also moved in times of Covid-19. The list might be long, but among those early defectors was Hallmark’s Alexa PenaVega (and her on-screen partner and husband Carlos PenaVega), who recently opened up about why he said goodbye to Tinseltown.

It turns out there were myriad reasons the couple left Hollywood, but chief among them was her husband’s mental state. In an interview, Alexa spoke about the rejections Carlos faced during a time of change for them. She said FoxNews:

Carlos was really struggling with the industry. Every time he auditioned, it fell between him and another guy and the other guy always got it. The rejection was just getting too much for him. It lasted a whole year. At the time, I was pregnant. We had always talked about moving to Hawaii, but later in life, as a retirement plan.

These “retirement” plans came much earlier, however. The actress explained how the family planning component really made them realize that a move out of California made the most sense. They just thought their kids would do better if they were raised somewhere else, and eventually had three children between 2016 and 2021 who they raised outside of Los Angeles. She recalled:

But we also knew we didn’t want to raise our kids in Los Angeles. I felt this twinge in my heart. I felt it was God saying, ‘You have to get out of here. It’s time.’ I didn’t want to move. I knew it was the right decision, but it wasn’t something that excited me that much.

(Box: If you choose “elsewhere,” Hawaii is a pretty cool choice.)

Often when people leave Los Angeles it’s because children are involved. Mathew McConaughey’s wife, Camila Alves, said she was ready to leave town so their children would avoid the paparazzi. Alves and McConaughey wanted to give them a “private way to grow up.” In the Hallmark star’s case, however, leaving Hollywood seems like a very difficult decision for her personally.

You would think Hawaii is so exciting. But I loved LA. I loved my career and I didn’t want to go there. At the time, I felt like we were moving for Carlos. But one day I was praying in my car and suddenly I had this revelation. I felt like God was preparing us for this move. And we’re not moving for Carlos. We move for my heart. It stopped me in my tracks because the whole time I thought we were just moving for Carlos. But I needed a heart reset. I was the one trapped in the entertainment world and needed to step back. My work has become my identity. God pulled me out of there so I could learn to be an awesome mom and an awesome wife. God helped us build this foundation in our family. And once I had this revelation, I felt at peace.

Her story is a little different than many other celebrities who decided Hollywood wasn’t for them. In the Hemsworth case, the Thor: Love and Thunder The actor and his wife Elsa Pataky wanted to raise their children in nature, in a place where they could spend a lot of time outdoors and even ride horses. And Ariel Winter previously explained that she was ready for a change and just thought “why not?” In her case, children didn’t come into the equation at all, so it was the perfect time for her to radically change her life. There is no right or wrong reason behind the decision, and note that many other celebrities are staying in LA for the long haul.

Alexa PenaVega was promoting the release of her new book What if love was the goal (opens in a new tab)which focuses on her career as a child star in spy on kids, leading to her adult career and her relationship with Carlos. Since leaving Hollywood, the two have continued to work and even work together a lot. Hallmark had Carlos and Alexa opposite each other in the now-cancelled movie picture perfect mystery series, as well as a few one-off romances like love at sea.

Her next Hallmark movie with her husband will be released in August this year. Love in the limelight is about a couple who have interacted as pen pals for years. But will sparks fly when the “former boy band singer” returns to his hometown? This movie is part of Hallmark’s Summer Movies schedule and will premiere on August 6th.

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