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Learning all about your favorite star can be a trip down the rabbit hole of information. One hot topic centers around the controversial religion of Scientology. Many people are intrigued by the odd beliefs and curious to learn which stars practice the religion. Most people know that Tom Cruise is one of the most famous Scientologists, but other, lesser-known actors are just as dedicated to the religion and some stars that you wouldn’t expect to be connected at all. 

Who is Michael Pena?

Michael Pena
Michael Pena | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Actor Michael Pena is a Mexican-American who was born in Chicago. He’s been married since 2006 and has one child with his wife.

One of the most interesting things about him is that he reportedly asks the writers of the movies he’s in to include a reference to his Mexican-American heritage at some point in the film. He got his first movie role in 1994’s Running Free, later playing Brian Burke in the TV series Felicity

Pena has 91 film credits to his name and has been in movies such as Dora the Explorer, Gone in 60 Seconds, Million Dollar Baby, and American Hustle. His estimated net worth is about $7 million, which is helped along by the fact that he’s part of the Marvel Studios movie Ant-Man and The Wasp.

How Scientology plays a role in his life

Pena is one of those stars that you might not expect to be a Scientologist, simply because he isn’t as open about it as some of the others. He recently interviewed with The Guardian, where he shared a little more about his connection to the religion the difference it’s made in his life.

Pena has been a Scientologist since 2000. He got started by joining the detox program offered by the church when he was concerned about the amount of drinking he was doing. He soon found himself buying into the next thing and then another thing, and then it just made sense to him — it was practical. 

Pena says it wasn’t about connections within the church or looking for help in his career. He does credit another program of theirs, Study Tech, saying it helped him become a more confident reader, which helped him with scripts.

And he doesn’t listen to all the controversy that is out there about the church. He likens it to friends who don’t read or trust tabloid stories because they know they are misinformed.

What is Scientology?

Scientology is one of the only religions to come out of the 21st century and has turned into a highly successful worldwide religion, but it is often misunderstood. Founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, it started as a new approach to mental health, called Dianetics.

The religion today reminds people that “science is something one does, not something one believes in.” Based on this, there are specific actions taken to help church-goers become free from trauma and become their highest selves. Members will tell you it’s mostly about self-improvement. 

The church is now led by David Miscavige and has had its moments of controversy. Many celebs have had long histories with the religion and go on to get out of it, which happens quite publicly, like with Leah Remini.

There are also well-known celebrity feuds around the religion. Perhaps that’s because it’s seen as a mix of things most other religions aren’t: therapy, religion, and sci-fi. 

The latest from Michael Pena

To catch Pena in his latest movie, you’ll have to see Jexi or Dora and the Lost City, which both released in 2019. His next film will be out on February 14, 2020, and is a horror take on the classic Fantasy Island.