Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Transformation Of Peyton List From Childhood To Cobra Kai

People may have grown up with Peyton List on their television thanks to the Disney Channel or the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid movie adaptations. But today, the actress is seen busting heads as Tory Nichols in Netflix's Cobra Kai. The popular show based on the Karate Kid franchise of movies began as a launch series for YouTube Red in 2018, with the second season in 2019.

Yet, per The Hollywood Reporter, YouTube changed their model from a subscription-based platform to ad-based, and, as a result, the third season, as well as the previous seasons of the show, found a new home with Netflix. Season 4 of the series is currently in development, with hopeful plans for filming to be completed in summer 2021.

Many of the series' main cast will be returning, including that of List's Tory. The character made her debut in season 2 of the series but, by the end of season 3, had quickly established herself as probably one of the show's standout characters. List's career seems to have steadily been building up to her Cobra Kai role. From modeling as a child and being a Disney Kid to now portraying a tough martial artist, Peyton List's transformation is an interesting journey.

Peyton List knew from a young age that she wanted to be a performer

Peyton List started her career as a child model and transitioned into movies. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be an actor or performer, and as she noted in a conversation with Brooke Shields for Interview Magazine, it was thanks to her mother that the actress got an opportunity to pursue her career.

"I never thought of it as a career," she said. "It started off as an after-school thing I would do growing up in New York. I would take the train to the city, my mom would take my twin brother and me. My twin brother got discovered on the Staten Island ferry, and my mom said, 'Oh, well, my daughter is the one who's always wanted to do it.' And they were like, 'No, we don't need any girls, we'll just take him.' And she kind of fought for me. So, my mom is really the one that saw that I could do it."

List would model in publications like American Girl and Justice. She also started appearing onscreen at a young age in uncredited roles. Via The Things, the actress appeared in 2002 in an uncredited role in soap opera As The World Turns. She also appeared with her brother in an uncredited scene in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. Her first big role came in the form of playing a young Jane (Katherine Heigl) in 2008's 27 Dresses.

Peyton List finds major success with Disney's Jessie

2011 served as a breakthrough year for Peyton List. The actress starred in Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules as Holly Hills, the popular crush of protagonist Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon). She would reprise the role in the next film in the series: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.

It was also in 2011 that List also got one of her most well-known roles, thanks to the Disney Channel. She was cast in the series Jessie as Emma Ross, the eldest child on the show, who was also a fashionable teenager. As List said in an interview with PopSugar, although there were some differences between her and the character she played on Jessie, the two did share a love for fashion. List reprised her role as Emma for the 2015 Jessie spin-off Bunk'd and also appeared in other Disney shows like Austin & Ally and I Didn't Do It. 

Although Emma was a big role for List's career at the time, the actress did note in Coveteur the higher standards to which the public seems to hold young Disney teenagers: "It's weird because Disney stars are normal teenagers. Everyone expects that because they have this show where everything is perfect — bad things do happen, obviously — but I think they just expect them to be really conservative and always cover up and not really be who they truly are," she said.

Peyton List moves on from Disney to other projects

After the 2016 Disney Channel movie The Swap, Peyton List began moving away from Disney and placing herself in other projects. She admitted in Interview Magazine that after Disney, she'd forgotten how to audition. Suffering from nerves, the actress had to relearn to calm herself down and practice hard for auditions.

Nevertheless, List found herself busy during her post-Disney career. She starred in the independent film Anthem Of A Teenage Prophet, a project that definitely showed her range beyond the Disney Channel. List noted in Pop-Cultarlist.com that the role was a lot darker and heavier than she was used to playing at that time. She also did some voice work, notably voicing Barbara Gordon in the animated Batman: Hush.

But List got the chance to surprise audiences thanks to her role as Tory in Cobra Kai. According to List in an interview for WWD, the creators couldn't pass up the opportunity to cast a "Disney Princess" in the role of the tough Tory. List was up to the challenge, and the creators took a chance on her after her audition for the role.

Peyton List becomes a karate kid

For Peyton List, the role of Tory has given the actress an opportunity to prove her range. Via Screen Rant, the actress considers it a dream role, and she has a lot of fun with the character. In fact, List noted that it's the most fun role she's had so far in a role.

Playing Tory also gave List an opportunity to develop real martial arts skills. The actress said in Interview Magazine that she feels empowered by her role in Cobra Kai and that it has forced her to train every day. In fact, via WWD, List goes to an small private dojo owned by a friend's uncle to work on her karate skills in preparation for season 4 of Cobra Kai. If we thought Tory had some impressive fight scenes in the show so far, we could be in store for some action that ups the ante in the new season.

Considering her origins as a child model and Disney Channel star, Peyton List's transformation into a karate antagonist is quite a fun surprise.