Alexa Vega on Holding on to Faith in Hollywood

Alexa Vega reveals how she stays spiritually grounded with her career on the rise.

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- Posted on Oct 20, 2014

Alexa Vega Dancing With The Stars

Many actors can only dream of having a career like Alexa Vega’s. At 26 years old, she’s been acting for most of her life—over 20 years—and has inhabited roles so varying, courageous and challenging that chameleon should be added to her exhaustible list of talents.

You probably recognize her most for her work in Spy Kids, the family-friendly film she shot when she was just thirteen, but since then, she’s been working hard to shed her child star image for something lasting. 

Guideposts spoke to Vega about her new movie 23 Blast, a faith-based film that follows the true story of high school football star Travis Freeman who lost his sight as a teenager but continued to play the game he loved.

A Character Most Like Herself

In the movie, Vega plays Ashley, Freeman’s childhood friend who eventually has a big role in helping the young athlete overcome his disability and get back out on the gridiron.

One thing that drew the experienced actress to the film was being able to do what she hasn’t had the chance to do in the two decades she’s been working in the business: be herself. Much like Vega, Ashley is a tough, no nonsense type of character and one that was refreshing for the actress to take on.

“She doesn’t condone laziness,” Vega explained. “She’s definitely more ‘let’s push through this, we can overcome it,’ and I really liked that about her. She’s such an encouraging character, she doesn’t baby people but she’s still sympathetic.”

“This is a character that’s the most like me that I’ve played in a really long time,” Vega told Guideposts.org.

Vega credits her own strong sense of self and faith in God to the foundation her mother instilled in her and her siblings. While Los Angeles, California is her current address, she was raised on a ranch down South in Florida in a religious household.

But the actress admits to undergoing plenty of spiritual growth in her years in the entertainment industry. Vega, who began acting when she was just 5 years old, is no stranger to the pitfalls of Hollywood. Plenty of her peers have struggled with some of the nastier aspects of the business, but Vega has leaned on her faith to stay grounded in who her mother raised her to be.

“We all go through seasons, we all go through times in our life where we aren’t as grounded as we would like to be and that’s all part of learning,” Vega said. “But the reason why I’ve never fallen into [the dangers of fame] is my mom. She created a very solid foundation for me and my sisters. She taught us the importance of our faith at a very young age and as we got older, we were able to explore that truly on our own and find out why we loved the Lord.”

Finding her Faith

For Vega, that true understanding of what her love for God meant in her life as an actress didn’t come right away. 

“For a long time, it’s not that I didn’t believe -- I absolutely believed -- but I didn’t realize what the commitment took,” Vega said. “It wasn’t until I really started diving into the Word that I started realizing, ‘Ok, you know what? Some of the roles that I take have to change. Some of the movies that I used to be okay with doing, I’m no longer okay with filming anymore.’ And that just comes with growth and time as you find out where you are in your faith.” 

And once you have your footing, she says, it’s important to be surrounded with people who share your mindset.

“In this business, it’s such a 'yes' business. You have people catering to you all the time, so if you’re not surrounded by like-minded people, if you aren’t surrounded by people who are willing to say 'no' to you and keep your attitude in check, then it is very easy to get lost.”

“It’s heartbreaking to watch because you’re seeing great people who are given an incredible platform and it’s going to waste and it’s a shame because you know they don’t see it now but it’s something they’re going to see later on. All you can do is pray and love on them and hope for the best.”

In addition to her mother, Vega has her husband, Big Time Rush star Carlos PenaVega, to help remind her to stay on the path she has chosen.

The two, who were married earlier this year, met during a Bible study group and the actress says they’re each other’s biggest supporters in faith, work and life. They are even working together on his upcoming movie Spare Parts, alongside George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis.

“We make sure that we stay on track,” Vega said. “We both lift each other up.”

A Will to Persevere

Being more selective in the roles she chooses hasn’t slowed the actress down a bit. In fact, her spiritual journey has landed her on one of the most popular dramas on TV, ABC’s Nashville, back down South in Tennessee, where she can really be herself, even off-screen.

“I love the South,” the actress gushed. “The people there, the crew, honestly it’s the first time where I’ve ever been on a set when you go to lunch and everyone’s actually praying over their meals. You don’t see that at all in California or Vancouver or anywhere else that you shoot. It was really cool to see people do it there. It’s such a community and it’s so positive and just a great energy out there.”

That positive energy is something Vega hopes the audience will take away from her latest film. 

“I want people to be encouraged. I love that [23 Blast] is a feel-good movie. It’s a story about an over-comer and somebody who could’ve let [tragedy] in their life take them down but they didn’t. In some sort of way we all go through that struggle,” but how we handle that struggle is completely up to us.

If there’s one thing the actress would like to change about the way people view her commitment to her faith, it’s the “perfection misconception.” “I feel like there’s such a misunderstanding of Christians. Everyone is like ‘Well, you guys are perfect,’ and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, no! We are not perfect,’ but we have our faith,” Vega said.

Her relationship with God is something the actress admits to constantly working on. “We have our Bible study every Monday night here at the house and we have all our friends come over and it’s just a great feeling of community, of having like-minded people,” Vega said.

“You’re surrounded by people you love who understand you, who understand the struggles and what it’s like to live by faith. It’s really nice to have people who understand.”

23 Blast is in theaters everywhere Oct. 24th. 

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