Alexa & Carlos PenaVega Talk Their Nickelodeon Series 'The Casagrandes'
And now, the singer/actors — who are all grown up with kids of their own — are bringing more entertainment to today's children with their new Nickelodeon animated series, The Casagrandes.
The show, a spinoff of Nickelodeon's Loud House, chronicles the adventures of a Latinx family much like the PenaVegas, and the couple looks forward to being part of a diverse project that showcases their own culture.
TV Insider spoke with the PenaVegas about their characters on The Casagrandes.
The Casagrandes is a spinoff of Loud House. How did this idea come about?
Carlos: Well, we were doing some work with Loud House and Nickelodeon had always talked about if these characters do well, maybe we could do a spinoff show. Alexa and I had just moved to Hawaii so I was like, 'If we ever do a real show, how would we make that work if we’re in Maui?' We kind of just wrote it off and out of nowhere Nickelodeon was like, 'Let’s give your family their own show,' and they wanted to make it work from Maui. They really had all the ideas.
Alexa: What was really cool is that it was just so well-received. You have Loud House, which is already such a popular show, but then when The Casagrandes was introduced on Loud House, those episodes were just awesome, and people related to it so much. We’re both Hispanic, so to be able to see our families represented, even within a cartoon, was really cool.
Did becoming parents over the last few years inspire you to do a children’s show?
Alexa: I think that we’ve always been big kids, if you look at me and Carlos and everything that we’ve done. I would say that our kids certainly add to wanting to do the show, but really we still love animated movies, cartoons. To throw it back to what we’ve done in our past, Spy Kids was such an awesome opportunity and movie because we were breaking the rules a little bit. You didn’t really have kids in these cool roles like that, being world-changers. And then, it being a Latino family.
Spy Kids was kind of a break into that mold and then now to see where we are is such a fun time. It’s not just in our movies and TV, but we’re seeing it in our cartoons, it’s so colorful and so diverse and that’s what you see when you go to school every day. You don’t see one type of person.
Did you have any shows like this representing your culture growing up?
Alexa: Actually, yeah. Back in the day, we used to watch the George Lopez show, and I know Carlos used to watch it a lot. It was so fun, we really loved it. But I think what I really love about right now is that — at least for me — I don’t look at it like 'oh, that’s a Latino television show' or 'this represents that culture.' Now it’s just one big melting pot. It’s just, 'this is a show about people,' and I love that. It’s become so normal to have such a diverse group of people together that you don’t even think about it anymore.
What did you think about One Day at a Time being canceled on Netflix (before being picked up by Pop)? What can we do moving forward to get shows like The Casagrandes and One Day at a Time on TV?
Alexa: I didn’t actually know, we live on an island, so I don’t know too much about the backlash, but I think it comes down to the audience. At the end of the day, studios and all these people would love to put out great content and things that they love, but sometimes some of the shows that happen to be favorites unfortunately don’t always have the best ratings or views. Financially it isn’t feasible for networks to always keep them on for whatever reason so I think it does come down to audience.
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For us, we’re super fortunate to have awesome relationships with our fans to where it helps push them into wanting to watch the projects that we’re a part of and it helps get an audience there for the show. I think it really comes down to, if you like a show or if you like a movie, whatever it is, you as a fan or as an audience member have to support it in any way you can. Because at the end of the day, if it’s not being watched — regardless of if it’s meaningful or important — it all comes down to, a lot of times, the finances.
Carlos: I think for people to take it personally, I just don’t agree with it. Like Alexa said, shows get canceled all the time.
Alexa: We’ve been on so many canceled TV shows.
Carlos: Whether people want to believe because it was a Latino show or whatever, to me, at the end of the day, it’s still a business. The people running that business are going to make the best decisions for them and people can’t take that personally.
Are there any characters on the show that are based on people that you know in real life?
Alexa: [Laughs] Not that I’m aware of but it cracks me up because Carlos’ character Bobby, it’s not that I’m biased, he’s my favorite. He makes me laugh, he’s goofy and looney and that literally is who my husband is. I feel like Bobby might be just like a spinoff of you in real life.
Carlos: [Laughs] Come on now.
Alexa: Maybe just slightly goofier, with a higher voice.
What about you Alexa?
Carlotta is a girly girl. She’s a fashion-forward, feisty little thing. It’s fun because that’s not who I am but I really enjoy playing her. But at the end of the day, what I love about this show is that it's all about family. So, what I love is that they can get into all these crazy antics and fight with one another, but they all come together for the love of the family and those family values. I think it’s really great for kids to see these days.
You both have been on TV and in movies, how has it been venturing to voice acting?
Carlos: It’s been great, Nickelodeon has been so accommodating. We literally live in the middle of the ocean and we do our voiceover recordings and get it done. Lex and I are just super thankful that they’ve been willing to make it work. I’m currently in the process of building a little vocal recording studio in the house so that we could do our sessions right from home and they’ve been helping us out. Who knows, hopefully we get picked up for many seasons and we could keep doing this for a long time and literally do it from our home.
Alexa: But it’s definitely a different experience. People don’t realize, but voiceover is hard.
Carlos: Yeah, it’s exhausting.
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Alexa: Because it’s a lot of high-energy packed into a small amount of time. When you come out of a session, usually your voice is shot, you’re exhausted because you’ve been singing and laughing and jumping. There’s just so much energy packed into such a small amount of time.
Carlos, we know you from your time in Big Time Rush. Is there any chance you’ll be singing on the show?
Carlos: I think I did sing a little bit, whether it was serious singing or not, I don’t remember.
Alexa: I think you did sing a little bit before in Loud House, no?
Carlos: I think I do sing a little bit and there may be some more singing coming.
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The show has an incredible cast, with voice talent like Ken Jeong and Melissa Joan Hart. How has it been working with them?
Alexa: I think that’s another hard part about animation, we're all separated, so the only time you really get to see people is during press. But since I just had a baby, we actually haven't left the island and we haven't spent time with anybody. It's really cool to be on a show with these people. I think everybody going to be super-excited just about the show, about the people lending their voices, and to see such a fun, diverse group of people in one place.
The Casagrandes, Series Premiere, Monday, October 14, 1:30/12:30c, Nickelodeon