Carlos PenaVega became the admiration of many after starring in Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush. Today, he’s not only been named one of Variety Latino’s “Top 10 Latinos to Watch,” but he was also a part of the ensemble cast of the Fox special Grease: Live that defeated Beyoncé in the run for an Emmy Award.
The father-to-be, in collaboration with Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Vanessa Hudgens, starred in the live televised adaptation of the 1971 homonymous musical.
“The experience was great. Although it was one night, everything was crazy. What they did was amazing, and the production was just incredible”, PenaVega told Variety Latino.
If there’s something that this young actor knows is that in Hollywood you have to create your own opportunities: “My wife [actress Alexa PenaVega] and I are starting a production company. Nobody is giving us the chances that we want, so I’m going to make those chances for myself. I think that’s the mentality you gotta have. You have to make the opportunities for yourself.”
The 27-year-old actor told us he knew acting was going to be his career between age 10 or 11, when he had the change to be in his first musical. “When I was just a kid I got into musical theater and I did my first show. It was Titanic, the musical, and I had a little solo. I was Edward, the bellboy, and I got to fall off the ship at the end. As soon as I finished my part, I was like ‘I love this. This is great. I want to do it forever.’”
The son of a Spanish father and a Dominican mother, he says if there’s something he learned growing up surrounded by Hispanic parents is that you have to work hard for what you want,” he explained. “My parents are all self-made. So they worked really hard to give my brothers and me an incredible life… I think I have always taken that with me.”
Adding: “I truly feel like Latin people work really hard. We have a drive that a lot of people don’t have, and I think it’s because we know what can be. We see where we are and we work hard until we get where we want to be.”
The actor whose credits include “Elephant Kingdom,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “ER,” “Summerland,” and “The Thundermans,” among others, thinks that although today’s Latinos have more opportunities in Hollywood “it’s still not enough. It’s so hard for a young Latin dude to get the big roles.”
However, the 27-year-old says he doesn’t regret working in the entertainment industry. Given the chance he would do it all over again. “I wouldn’t change a thing that I have done. This is great. I love it and I’m going to continue doing it… But there has to be a balance. I would teach myself how to let go easier because, back in the day, it was hard when I let myself get too attached to auditions that I ended up not getting… But now, since I’m married, I have like a partner in crime. Us starting a family, it just shows me there are so many more important things in life than this industry or the role you score or not”.