Peyton List wears Giorgio Armani (photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden, makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel)

It’s mid-January and Peyton List arrives at her cover shoot in Williamsburg looking calm, collected, and ready to tackle the day. She tries on six or seven different looks, ranging from dresses and draped jackets to metallic gowns—all of which seem to be a perfect match for her increasingly bold and playful personal style.

“I’m not a size zero or two,” the actress, 23, admits while taking a break in the cozy and cute apartment. List’s declaration is what makes her so beloved after all of these years on television: She is relatable and down to earth, despite being in the spotlight since she was 4 years old.

Clearly, this isn’t List’s first rodeo. When the blonde beauty was very young, her mom enrolled her in acting classes as an after-school activity, but over time, she realized it was something she wanted to pursue professionally.

“I didn’t really think of it as a career until I was probably a legal adult,” she tells GRAZIA Gazette: Los Angeles. “It always felt right to me. It never felt off. It always felt really fun and that I was playing dress up with a bunch of adults who would be so kind to me and be so collaborative. They would all take me in and teach me about their job.”

Peyton List wears Miu Miu (photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden, makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel)

List’s career first got off the ground when she was cast as Emma Ross, a bubbly, albeit cynical young girl on the Disney Channel show Jessie, in which she played one of four children supervised by a nanny, alongside future Young Hollywood stars Skai Jackson, Debby Ryan, and Cameron Boyce, who tragically passed from an epileptic seizure in 2019. When List was first offered the role, she recalls, her agent actually advised her not to take it. It was a tough sentiment to hear, especially because she grew up watching Wizards of Waverly Place, That’s So Raven, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Ultimately, the opportunity to align with the Disney brand was simply too great to pass up, and when she heard the news that she was cast, she “screamed, cried and jumped up and down” from her excitement.

“I always wanted to do it, and it was a dream come true for me. It was mind-blowing as a little kid,” she shares. “It’s funny because when I got on the set, I was the only one in the cast not getting laughs at the table read and nobody thought I was funny. They wanted to cut my character. I almost had this huge opportunity and then lost it. I always think about if I hadn’t come around in the first week and hadn’t learned what I needed to do to stay on the show: would I still be acting or would I have been so disheartened with the industry?”

Peyton List wears Louis Vuitton (photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden, makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel)

Looking back on the series, which ran from 2011 to 2015, List is glad she took the part, even though she knew she would have to prove herself in more serious roles down the line.

“I feel like it’s given me so many amazing opportunities,” she states. “I feel like it has helped me become the person that I am now, so I think there was a time where I did regret it a little bit, but I do believe that everything works out the way it’s supposed to.”

Following the success of Jessie, List appeared in its spinoff, Bunk’d, in addition to other non-Disney roles: in the CBS sitcom Happy Together with Damon Wayans Jr., in the Hulu series Light as a Feather, in the movie Hubie Halloween with Adam Sandler and Julie Bowen, and most recently, on Netflix mega-hit Cobra Kai—the last of which has reenergized her career and given her a whole new fanbase.

However, it hasn’t always been easy breaking out of the Disney stereotype, which Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Zendaya have similarly transcended. List likens moving on from Disney to “coming out of my college years.”

“You’re trying to prove yourself and find your way, just like all of my friends who are in college,” she says. “That was kind of a weird time, going into casting offices and reading for them and hoping that they don’t have some sort of preconceived idea of who I am. Sometimes I think it has helped me, because they expect something different than who I am. I think people are more open to it now, but I think a lot of girls that were on Disney before me have already shattered that, like Selena, Zendaya, and all of these girls who have been doing really well.”

Peyton List wears Fendi jacket and shorts, Michael Kors Collection bralette, Reike Nen slingbacks (photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden, makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel)

When List initially auditioned for Cobra Kai, she thought of it as just another acting job and was not expecting the show to become the cultural phenomenon that it is today. List ended up nabbing the role of Tory Nichols in the Netflix show, in which she has demonstrated her acting abilities while being part of a major hit.

“My favorite part is getting to be a female who can do martial arts and stunts and fighting,” she states. “Now, being able to show that girls can fight and girls can have those sides to them is so fun.”

What makes being on the series even better is that she gets to see how she is influencing the next generation of young girls. Case in point: Show creator Jon Hurwitz told List that at his two daughters’ school, the girls were initially supposed to take yoga, while the boys learned karate.

“The girls fought to do karate with the guys. They were like, ‘We can all do it. We all want to do it,’” List recalls. “I was like, ‘That is so cool to me that there is some sort of impact because of the show.’”

Peyton List wears a Michael Kors Collection top and skirt, Louis Vuitton loafers (photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden, makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel)

List never believed that starring in Cobra Kai would mean so much to her.

“The last season I went in, and I just thanked the creators,” she admits, adding that she feels indebted to them for “taking a chance” on her. “I am so grateful because it has really shifted my entire life. It’s been one of the greatest things that has happened to me. I love the character so much and the group of people.”

Even though she’s been in show business for most of her life, List confesses that playing Tory has “helped” her become more self-confident. Jumping into Tory’s shoes has allowed List to “be more of myself ”— something she is still adjusting to in real life and on social media. In 2022, it is just as terrifying as ever to be vulnerable on the internet, but List is excited that TikTok is not a “comparison pit,” as opposed to Instagram.

“I just try to follow people that are positive and honest to a certain extent,” she explains. “I know that a lot of it is people’s highlights and their best moments, so I try to remember that, but it does get in your head. I think TikTok has been really cool because my ‘For You’ page is really comforting, and I just see everyone being so authentic, real, and more open. It’s a really cool direction that it’s going.”

Peyton List wears St. John sweater and shorts, Jonathan Simkhai bralette (photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden; makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel)

For her part, it’s not always easy for List to express how she is feeling to others, as she describes herself as “a closed-off person.” Yet, she admits that when Gomez and Lovato both spoke about their mental health struggles, List felt like she could “relate” to them since she too has dealt with her fair share of problems.

“I just haven’t talked about any of it…” she reveals. That’s not to say that she won’t ever discuss her past with her 19 million Instagram followers and almost 5 million TikTok followers.

“I think I will [ultimately] tell [the public] because I think that a lot of women have been helped by others,” she explains. “I feel like older actors share things from their 20’s that are wild and insane, but they share it way later when they feel comfortable. I almost feel like that is how I am too with my childhood. I need time in order to reflect and then tell everyone what was happening.”

Peyton List photographed by Tayo Kuku and styled by Olivia Weeden, makeup by Tyron Machhausen, hair by Natasha Leibel

In the meantime, List is starting off 2022 on a high note—her makeup brand, Pley Beauty, debuts in late January.

“I called it Pley because I want people to express themselves and have fun,” she says of her vision. “It’s all about color and just being an artist and creating. The whole campaign shows that beauty is your playground and it’s all nostalgic. It’s all clean and sustainable, and a lot of our packaging is 100 percent recyclable material. I hope to push the beauty industry in some way. I just feel like there are a lot of people that aren’t meeting that sustainable bar.”

Though it may seem like List has done so much already, she believes she has merely just scratched the surface of what she can accomplish (and we tend to agree). In fact, while speaking with the talented starlet, she was giddy when revealing that she just landed “a dream role,” which she can’t yet talk about.

“It’s been a very surreal experience because I am like, ‘Oh my God, I feel so much better,’ which is horrible because work has become such a priority to me,” she says. “I have learned so much even the last few days since hearing the news. I really just wanted to prove to myself that I am worth it.”

She continues, “I finally acknowledged to myself that I work hard and that my success doesn’t happen by itself.”

It’s safe to say this Disney Channel darling is branching out, finding herself and helping others along the way—what more could you really ask for?