‘Cobra Kai’ Star Opens Up About Grief, Mental Health

Peyton List

Getty Peyton List at the 2018 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.

Longtime actress and “Cobra Kai” star Peyton List has recently opened up about her mental health as an actress, and the grief she suffered after the death of her friend Cameron Boyce. List, who has appeared as teenage antagonist Tory Nichols in Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” over the last two seasons, also expressed how working on the show has helped her deal with her mental health. Here’s what you need to know.

List Learned ‘So Much’ From Her Grief

Peyton List and Cameron Boyce

Getty“Jessie” co-stars Cameron Boyce and Peyton List in 2014.

List was very close to her Disney Channel co-star Cameron Boyce, who died of an epileptic seizure in 2019, at the age of 20. The two portrayed siblings in the TV series “Jessie,” from 2011 to 2015. After Boyce died, List posted a tribute to Instagram in which she said her “heart was broken” and that she had “never hurt this bad.”

In a March 2021 interview with Yahoo!, the then-22-year-old actress said she had learned “so much” about the grieving process since Boyce’s death. She explained that she had never lost someone so close before, so began to think, “what is the right way I should be grieving?” In addition, the fact that they were both celebrities was an additional challenge in the grieving process. She said:

I feel like when people lose someone it’s pretty private unless other people know you, so everyone knew and I feel like I had to take a second to just to go inside and figure it all out. But I feel like there’s no right way to grieve, and really just being there for his family, I think that helped.

She added that often when young people lose a loved one for the first time, their grieving process becomes very “narcissistic…’Oh, what is my life? What is this’?” But Kevin Chamberlin, another co-star on “Jessie,” told her: “You have to just focus on his legacy, his foundation and his leaving something bigger behind.” As a result, she said, she and his other loved ones are “focusing on that, finding a cure for epilepsy and that’s what really kept his parents and his sister going, and they’ve done so much for that community.”

Following Boyce’s death, The Cameron Boyce Foundation was founded in order to “cure epilepsy through funding research, education and awareness campaigns while still supporting causes that were important to Cameron.” In addition, the Foundation has since partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation in aiming to “end epilepsy.”

How ‘Cobra Kai’ Helps List Upkeep Her Mental Health

List, who began her role on “Cobra Kai” in 2019, has said that the physical exertion she brings to the role of Tory Nichols has “impacted my life…more than I ever thought it would.” She explained that, when she was off set, “I don’t have the trainers with me and I don’t have everyone to keep me going. I want to continue to practice for the next season, so the fact that this is martial arts-inspired has made it one of my favorite things.”

She also said that simply by playing the aggressive, battle-hardened Tory, “I found my confidence as a woman. Walking alone at night…just learning some self-defense does give a lot of confidence.” She also said that she was inspired by young girls who start karate due to her role on the show, and thinks “everyone should [take up]” the martial art.

List explained that, apart from physical exercise, being open about stress and anxiety with your loved ones was very valuable when it came to battling against mental health crises:

Talking it out with my friends and my family [has been helpful]. I think it was very hard for me to talk about things, but getting it out is going to be what helps me work through it. I think having a good foundation of people, even if it’s a small group, or just being able to have a person to talk to [is important].

She added that she also began therapy during the quarantine.

In terms of public figures she draws inspiration from when it came to mental health, List recommended Yumi Sakugawa and Cleo Wade. She said that following these accounts helped her grapple with her mental health, because “you just don’t feel alone. I think a lot of people complain about social media, and how it affects their mental health, but you can really control whatever you want to see. So I have to remind myself of that.”

When asked what mantra she lived by, List said that “my best friend and I just say ‘everything just adds character’.”

List will be upgraded to main cast status for “Cobra Kai” season 4. Be sure to catch Tory Nichols and the rest of the show’s cast when the next season is released on Netflix Dec. 31.

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