‘Cobra Kai’ Star Peyton List Shares Her Experience Growing Up On Screen

Peyton List in 2018

Getty Peyton List in 2018.

Peyton List, who has played the savage Tory Nichols since season 2 of “Cobra Kai,” has been a fairly recognizable face on television for over a decade. Though her debut acting role was in the 2008 film “27 Dresses,” in which she played the young counterpart to Katherine Heigl‘s character at the age of nine, she soon skyrocketed to fame as a Disney Channel star on the show “Jessie,” beginning in 2011.

Earlier this year, the 23-year-old made a video for Women’s Health Magazine where she discussed what it was like going through puberty on camera, what she does to take care of her body, and how she trains for her physically straining role on “Cobra Kai.”


Puberty Exacerbated List’s Insecurities

Peyton List in 2011

GettyPeyton List at Variety’s Power of Youth event in 2011.

List, who was 12 when she began her role as Emma Ross on “Jessie,” spoke of the awkwardness of needing a bra for the first time during her early days on the show. “Just going through all of the body changes and being so critical of yourself already, and then having other people also be critical of you online,” List said, “I definitely got very judgmental of myself.”

She went on to say that she “noticed a lot of anxiety, a lot of insecurity, and also then going through puberty and becoming more of a woman and gaining more weight and being really insecure about that. I think I started caring more about ‘if I felt good emotionally, then I felt good physically.’ Then I just was like, ‘alright, that’s fine, that’s all I need’.”

List then explained how, when she was 16, she hired a personal trainer to help accentuate her butt, given that she had been made fun of for it by one of her castmates. “I remember going in to this personal trainer and saying, ‘I want a butt!’ and she really got me a butt. I started doing a lot of squats, with a lot of weight, and it kind of just stuck around. I stopped working out with that trainer after a little bit but my butt kind of stayed and then I knew how to upkeep it.” Now, she says, “my favorite thing about my body is my butt.”

List also revealed that she had behind-the-teeth braces while she was filming, due to the fact that her braces couldn’t be visible on screen. However, not only did they give her a lisp, they were simply so painful she had to have them removed. “They would just cut up the sides of my tongue to [the point] where I didn’t even want to talk,” she said. “That’s why I got them removed, because they were so painful.” She said that she later got Invisalign, but that she would have to take them out while filming.

When it came to her hair, List said that, although she is a natural brunette, her relationship with her hair is “very complicated.” She goes back and forth now between colors, and it takes a great deal of intense routines to take care of it. However, during the pandemic, she “wasn’t even touching it.”


List On Her Twin Brother: ‘I Can’t Even Believe How Different We Are’

Spencer and Peyton List

GettyTwins Spencer and Peyton List in January 2017.

List also opened up about her relationship with her twin brother, Spencer, who is also an actor. List accentuated the fact that despite how they were twins, she never considered Spencer “a male version of me,” adding that people tended to think that she is the older sister. “I feel like I just developed the bossy personality, and would always tell him what to do,” List said.

She added that, while they were “inseparable as kids and still are best friends,” Spencer also tended to look up to her when they were younger. One time in middle school, she explained, she was absent from school because she was filming, and as a result Spencer didn’t know how to get home without her.

She also recounted another more recent anecdote. Because, according to List, they “go through everything at the same time,” they both got their wisdom teeth removed during quarantine. “We’re just having a drugged-up fight,” she said. “Basically, he wanted to go skydiving…and it was just me being a narc and telling him he couldn’t go skydiving and he started bawling his eyes out.”


List Has To Do A Lot of Training for Tory

Tory Nichols and Sam LaRusso fight in "Cobra Kai"

YouTubeTory Nichols (Peyton List) uses her kickboxing skills in a fight against Sam LaRusso (Mary Mouser) in the season 2 finale of “Cobra Kai.”

When it came to playing Tory on “Cobra Kai,” List explained that she had to work on kickboxing – Tory’s signature move – for “probably an hour every day” with the trainer on set. She said this would include “spin kicks, hook kicks, [and] round kicks,” and eventually became painful for her:

Something that I had a really hard time with was all the hip movement, because all the power in our kicks comes from our hips. And so I have to get low and twist and you just have to do those for a s*** ton of time. At first I was in such pain and burning but that has really helped me get that hip movement in. But it’s really just drilling it over and over and over.

Tory’s kickboxing style and well-rounded physical performance has led her to being one of the top students in John Kreese’s Cobra Kai dojo, though the last we’ve seen of her, Sam LaRusso (Mary Mouser) fought her to a draw.

List has been confirmed to return as a main cast member in season 4. Make sure to catch the new season when it is released on Netflix December 31.


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