Teen is encouraged to act out rebellion

Challenge: A young actress juggles two roles, one on a New York-based daytime drama, the other as a student in Baltimore.

February 01, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Although she is just 15, Peyton List is leading a double life.

Since Nov. 26, she has been spending part of every week in New York playing the role of teen-ager Lucy Montgomery on the CBS daytime drama As the World Turns. The remainder of the week is spent at Roland Park Country School, hanging out with friends and taking classes.

Peyton said she is splitting her time between the Big Apple and Baltimore because she wants to keep her acting life separate from her school life. "I love my job and am grateful for the opportunity to act," she said recently. "But I also love living in Baltimore. I'm tied to my school and all my friends are there."

Peyton, who lives in Roland Park, believes she can juggle the acting, commuting and schoolwork.

Her teachers and family think that if anyone can handle the rigorous schedule, Peyton can.

"Peyton can keep all of the balls in the air," said Joan F. Smith, head of Roland Park's upper school. "She is a very bright student and is good at time management." Smith said she has no doubt that Peyton will be able to balance her career and school, even with a three-year commitment to the show.

The teen-ager signed a contract in November to play 16-year-old Lucy, the rebellious daughter of Craig and Sierra Montgomery. The contract guarantees she will appear in an average of 1 1/2 episodes each week.

According to a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the union representing actors on daytime television, principals in daytime dramas are guaranteed between $548 and $731 per episode.

Peyton said her character sounds like a real teen-ager: "On the show, everything I say is something I would say in real life."

Peyton is a seasoned professional who has been acting and modeling since she was 8 years old. She has appeared in scores of print ads for Ralph Lauren Polo, Abercrombie & Fitch and Limited Too, and during the past two years, she has appeared on episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Sex and the City.

She spends on average two days a week in New York for As the World Turns, which is taped about three weeks in advance of air date.

Peyton's father, Douglas, is a management consultant with an office in New York. Her mother, Sherri Anderson, travels with Peyton, and her sister, Brittany, 18, is a student at the University of Virginia.

Most of the Peyton's scenes are with actor Hunt Block, who plays Lucy's father. He said, "She has filled the shoes of the character. She is always poised, prepared and calm."

Between rehearsals and tapings, Peyton spends time in her small dressing room. A bulletin board contains pictures of her friends and her sister, and a Roland Park Country School bumper sticker hangs on a wall. A laptop computer - her link to Roland Park Country School - stays in her dressing room so that she can study. She communicates with her teachers by e-mail or by telephone when she is in New York, and submits her homework via computer or fax.

School administrators said Peyton does not receive special treatment because of her absence from school. She was excused, however, from her theater arts and physical education classes because of her acting job and her dance training.

When Peyton is in Baltimore, she is busy with her friends, going to the mall, the movies or their homes. At school, she has joined the debate club and the Jewish heritage club, but has to limit her extracurricular activities.

She likes being in New York. There's Central Park, Soho and Lincoln Center - and restaurants and stores. "I love Bloomie's and Tiffany's," she said.

Peyton says she will graduate from Roland Park and attend college. But that is three years away. She wants to do a good job, and that means she has to focus on today, learning new scripts - and finishing her homework.

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