Baltimore native Peyton List is only 27. But she's already a veteran of almost two decades in show business with a resume that includes Disney movies, guest shots on "Law & Order" and recurring roles on "As the World Turns," and "Mad Men."
And this fall, she debuts in her first network starring role as one of the leaders of a group born with paranormal powers in CW's "The Tomorrow People," from veteran producer Greg Berlanti ("Everwood," "Arrow"). The sci-fi drama premieres at 9 p.m. Oct. 9.
"It's an incredible opportunity for me," List says of her role as Cara Coburn, the female leader of the outcast tribe living in an abandoned subway station. "I've never done a series where I've had this much responsibility in terms of carrying so much. But I'm also enjoying doing it. I can't say it's completely foreign, because I have done other shows. But it is definitely a new experience for me in terms of anything I've done in my career."
List's career is pretty incredible in terms of how long someone her age has been working in the entertainment industry. At an age when some young adults are still looking for their first job or just coming off their parents' health insurance plans, she has been earning a paycheck on New York and Los Angeles stages, runways and in front of cameras for 19 years with some of the biggest stars and most demanding executives in the business.
Born and raised on Roland Avenue in Roland Park, List and her older sister, Brittany, were launched at ages 8 and 11, respectively, by her mother, Sherri Anderson.
"My mother took my sister and me down to Washington, D.C., and we read for a small childrens' agency just to try to do commercials or something for fun, and it kind of all started there," she says.
List says the work was "sporadic" at first, and that she saw it as more of an "extracurricular activity" outside of school, "like taking dance."
But the modeling turned to acting, and by age 11, the Calvert School student was appearing at Baltimore's Center Stage.
"I did 'H.M.S. Pinafore,' and it was probably one of my best memories," List says. "We ran for about two or three months, I think. I was 11, and I'm not entirely sure what I was doing there. But it was so much fun and it was such a cool, interesting experience, because it was the first time I really got to know adult actors who do it professionally.
"They were all brought in from New York and put up at apartments across from Center Stage, and you just get completely immersed in that world."
Looking back, she thinks that's where she first heard the call that she is still chasing.
"I do remember thinking even at that young age, 'This could just be incredible if this was your life.' They were incredible professionals. I had a really, really, really great time doing it, and Calvert was so supportive and willing to let me out for matinees. Yeah, the experience of that play at Center Stage was great, just great."
A year later, things "really picked up" professionally, List says, when her sister was scouted by a modeling agency and brought to New York.
"Because I was sort of tagging along, I was placed with an agency in New York as well — one for children's modeling," she explains.
That would be the legendary Eileen Ford Modeling Agency, and by the time she was 15, List had appeared in magazine and other print ads for Ralph Lauren Polo, Limited Too and Abercrombie & Fitch.
She was on the cover of "Girl's Life" more than any other model up to that time, according to a 2002 Sun profile.
"The modeling industry is a beast," she says of those years, which also included a stint at the School of American Ballet.
The Sun profiled List after she landed a recurring role as rebellious 16-year-old Lucy Montgomery in the CBS soap opera "As the World Turns."
Then a student at Roland Park Country Day School, the precocious teen was splitting each week between Baltimore and New York where the show was filmed. Her father, Douglas List, worked as management consultant in both cities.
List appeared on the CBS soap opera for three years during which she continued to be a cover girl for publications like "Bridal Guide" and "Your PROM" while doing guest shots on series like "Smallville."