Alexa and Carlos PenaVega’s New Hallmark Movie ‘Love in the Limelight’ Is Based on a True Story


  • Alexa and Carlos PenaVega star in the new Hallmark Channel movie Love in the Limelight. 
  • It’s loosely based on the real story of Charles in Charge star Willie Aames and his wife Winnie Hung.
  • Alexa says the movie also mirrors her and Carlos’s real-life romance. 
Carlos and Alexa PenaVega singing into a microphone in the Hallmark Channel movie 'Love in the Limelight'
Carlos PenaVega and Alexa PenaVega in ‘Love in the Limelight’ | ©2022 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

Alex and Carlos PenaVega’s new Hallmark Channel was a long time in the making. The husband-and-wife pair originally tried to make their upcoming movie Love in the Limelight four years ago, but things didn’t work out. This time around, the couple managed to make it happen, successfully bringing the story of a romance between a former boy band member and his long-time fan and pen pal to the screen. 

Carlos and Alexa PenaVega star in ‘Love in the Limelight’ 

The PenaVegas recently sat down to answer some questions about Love in the Limelight (via YouTube). The pair revealed that the movie isn’t purely fictional. 

“So this is actually based on a true story,” Carlos said.

Charles in Charge actor Willia Aames and his wife Winnie Hung wrote the script for Love in the Limelight, which is inspired by their real-life romance, along with Rich Tabach. 

“It’s not exactly how they came to be together but it’s loosely based on their life,” Carlos said.

In the movie, Carlos plays a former boy band member whose career has been on the downswing since his group broke up. But he still keeps in touch with one of his biggest fans, a woman named Summer, played by Alexa. After Nick’s manager books a gig for him at a small venue near Summer’s hometown, the two meet in person for the first time ever, and sparks soon fly. 

‘Love in the Limelight’ is inspired by the life of ‘Eight Is Enough’ star Willie Aames 

Dick Van Patten talking to Willie Aames in a still from 'Eight Is Enought'
Dick Van Patten and Willie Aames in ‘Eight Is Enough’ | ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

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Aames is a former teen idol who also starred in shows such as The Swiss Family Robinson and Eight Is Enough. But fame faded, and he went through a “crash-and-burn period” where he was homeless and dealing with substance abuse issues, he said in an interview with Closer Weekly

Through the tough times, Aames kept in touch with Winnie, who’d written him a fan letter decades earlier. The two struck up a correspondence that lasted 30 years. Once they finally met in person, they quickly fell in love and soon married. 

“When I saw her, I literally could not breathe,” Aames said. “My knees started to go weak. We had the most amazing evening. It was like we knew each other our whole lives.”

The movie also has some similarities to Carlos PenaVega’s life 

Although Love in the Limelight is drawn from Aames and Hung’s real-life romance, it also has some similarities to Carlos’s life. 

“You were almost playing yourself,” Alexa said of her husband’s role in the movie. 

In Love in the Limelight, Carlos’s character was a member of a boy band called the Mendez Boyz. Playing a pop star was a natural fit for the actor, who is a member of the group Big Time Rush and starred in the Nickelodeon series of the same name from 2009 to 2013. While the band went on hiatus in 2014, they recently reformed and have released several new songs.  (Carlos also wrote and sings six new songs for Love in the Limelight.)

“It’s kind of like our story in real life,” Alexa added. 

Love in the Limelight premieres Saturday, August 6 at 8 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel. 

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