Cobra Kai's Dallas Dupree Young On Kenny's Arc In Season 4 [Interview]

The Netflix series "Cobra Kai" recently released its fourth season and introduced us to a new character named Kenny. The San Fernando Valley is a rough place in the world of the show, and it's largely because of the rivalry between the karate dojos of Cobra Kai and the combo of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang. There are big spoilers ahead for "Cobra Kai" season 4 ahead, so if you haven't watched yet, go do it right now. You have been warned and there will be no mercy! 

Kenny, played by Dallas Dupree Young, is the new kid in town. His mom is working like crazy while his dad is deployed overseas. His brother is in juvenile hall, where he served a bit with Robby (Tanner Buchanan). Kenny's a sweet kid who dances and plays video games, and that gets him bullied in his new middle school. He even gets chased down by Daniel LaRusso's (Ralph Macchio) son Anthony (Griffin Santopietro) and his gang of jerks while cosplaying. My entire heart broke during that scene. Kenny's brother hooks him up with Robby and Cobra Kai, but things take a turn during the All Valley Karate Tournament. I recently spoke to Young about the season, Kenny's bullying, that dancing scene, cosplay, and more.

'I Fell in Love with Cobra Kai'

Were you a fan of the films before you joined the cast of "Cobra Kai?"

I was a fan of the films, yes. So I watched "Karate Kid" 1 whenever I was about five, six years old, because I was a martial artist when I was younger. And then I fell in love with "Cobra Kai" right when I found out I was a finalist for the show. It's an incredible franchise.

That's so cool that you were a martial artist. Tell me a little bit about that.

Yeah, so I started martial arts whenever I was about five or six years old. I did it for about two years, and then I stopped for a while because I was interested in football and baseball. So I stopped until I was at the age of 12. And then I did this form of martial arts where it was taekwondo, kickboxing, jujutsu, and parkour. Tried to add those all together, and it perfectly worked out because I decided to be on "Cobra Kai" which I thought, "This is perfect. It's really preparing me for this opportunity."

I love that. You watched the series, so how was it, joining such a cult hit?

Joining this show has been an incredible experience. I've worked with some of the best actors I could possibly know, honestly. And just watching the more experienced actors that I've seen, they're so talented and they're so poised and they know exactly what they're doing, and I've learned a lot and I've grown a lot just watching them be experts at the craft. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and I'm so grateful for this platform to share what I've been doing for a long time. And yeah, I'm very grateful for this.

I was looking at your Instagram. I love all the pictures you have with the cast. Was there someone in the cast that stuck out as a mentor?

Tanner Buchanan. He's the guy that stuck out as a mentor because he ... it was that mentor/mentee relationship from day one. He was the first person that I saw on the stage and I wasn't even working that day. He just wanted to come and meet me and show me the ropes. Yeah, he's just been that shoulder to cry on, person I want to be homies with from the beginning. He's such an incredible person, such an incredible actor, and I've really grown from watching him.

'A Mother Son Bond is Very Strong'

That's awesome. I had read that you did a lot of martial arts research in addition to actually doing martial arts. So do you have any idols?

In the martial arts world, Wesley Snipes is my idol. It's funny, because the stunt coordinator, he suggested that I should watch "Blade," and I was like, "'Blade,' really? Okay." I watched "Blade" with my dad, and it was so fascinating to watch his technique and how smooth he was with every single movement, and every single kick, punch, whatever it was. He was absolutely incredible in that movie. So now I just need to watch "Blade II" and so forth, so on.

Kenny was one of those characters that, when he is introduced, you really get attached really quickly. Let's start with his family. They're not around, but you still get mom snacks in the morning. So what's Kenny's relationship to his family?

Kenny's relationship with his family would — it's a complex relationship. It's difficult in a way, because he doesn't have his family around and he's used to being by himself. So this was his routine prior to moving to a new school, but he's always respected his family. He's never had a problem with them. And honestly, he wants his dad and his mom to be together again and be home as a family, along with his brother. But that's how life is. There's no way you can change it. It's going to be that way until he goes to college. So he realizes that at the beginning, but I love how the creators incorporated that relationship with him and his mom at the beginning, because a mother and son bond is very strong and I respect my mom and I love her, too. So I really identify myself with Kenny right here.

He does this adorable dance, and then he gets teased for it. First of all, did you do the dance? Did you come up with that dance?

I came up with that dance on the spot. I wasn't practicing before. I said, "I want to be in that mindset where I'm feeling the music. I want to just have fun, be goofy." And the creators, they told me, "Do whatever you want, have so much fun with it." I said, "Okay, I'm just going to do whatever I can. I'll make it a little good at some point. But most of all, it's going to be funny and goofy." And that's what displayed on camera.

'It Would Be Really Cool to Have a Halloween Costume with Dr. Scribblebottoms'

Let's talk about the bullying, because that broke my heart. And watching Kenny's arc with the bullying is really intense. What do you think that's going to mean to a lot of kids watching?

What Kenny's story is going to mean to a lot of kids is that bullying, it won't escape you. Ever. And it's always going to be a tough and difficult conversation with anybody. Now, what Kenny does that I don't want other kids to do is be physical towards the end. But what I want you to do is tell an adult, tell a parent, tell somebody that you trust, so that can be stopped. It's okay to say "No," it's okay to be stopped. You can't allow that to happen to you and affect your life, because it's really damaging to a person. And I experienced that. So that's why Kenny's story really resonated with me from day one.

It was absolutely heartbreaking to see. And you know, something that I really appreciated was the fact that he's a huge video game player. Do you play?

I play video games, yes. I play video games often, too. I've never played "Dungeon Lord," I've never played a game like that, but it was cool to play that game even though it was all green screen. They gave me the idea of where everything would be. And then watching it on camera, I'm like, "Wow. So this is the game that I was playing."

What do you actually play in real life?

So I always play sports games like "Madden," "MLB 2K," and then I also play "Fortnite" every now and again.

"Fortnite"? That's awesome. So you get it. Do any of you and the cast members play on set?

On set? Yes. We always played — so we didn't really play video games on set, but we always played mind games. We played this game called "Ninja" where we all have to stand in the circle and then we try to hit each other's hands while moving away. And then we also had very meaningful conversations with each other, talking about games. And then when we're off set, we play different games like "Mario Kart," whenever they invited us to their house. It's really an incredible environment on set.

Kenny cosplays, which for a lot of fans of this show is a really big deal. Have you ever done that?

I've never cosplayed in my life. I have never done it, but that's something that I have to try. But the other thing was, I was thinking about it. It would be really cool to have a Halloween costume with Dr. Scribblebottoms. And I would get that costume and start cosplaying.

Oh my God. Okay. I feel like this needs to happen.

It has to. It has to happen.

'I'm So Blessed to Have the Platform'

What sort of reaction have you gotten from people now that the episodes are out?

I've really enjoyed all of the positive feedback that I have been receiving since the release of the show. Everybody has had very kind and encouraging words to me about my performance and the dynamic with Tanner and everything. It's overwhelming in the best possible way. And then my follows shot up on Instagram. So everything is happening right now. And I'm so blessed to have this platform.

One of the things you posted on Instagram was some of the little bits of fight choreography that you guys are doing. What's that like? How much training do you have to do? How many hours do you spend on that?

We had a lot of intense training throughout the entire season. So we went to train — at least the kids, I'll say — we went to train maybe two days out of the week, I'm going to say, and it would consist of probably an hour and a half of work and training, learning the stunt choreography. We'd do boxing, kickboxing, to also try to get ourselves in shape and keep our mind focused and keep working on the task at hand. It was very intense throughout the entire time, but I had such an incredible time learning all of the choreography, because that's something that I have never experienced in my life before. So it was really amazing, learning all of that.

Since the whole season's out, I have to ask you what you want to see for Kenny going forward.

Well, that's a good question. Ooh. What I want to see ... I want to see Kenny's relationship with [Kenny's brother] Shawn [Okea Eme-Akwari] be a little more explored. I would love for that to happen in the upcoming seasons. And then I want Kenny to remember who he is, and remember where he came from, and who he wants to be when he grows up.

'You Fillibuster Recess'

So in addition to followers on Instagram and all of that, how has your life changed since getting the role?

Ooh, since getting the role my life has changed tremendously, honestly. It's really cool. I've always loved when I got recognized in public or whatever, and yesterday it was crazy how multiple people came up to me. That was one of the first real times that people have come up to me because of them seeing me in the show. And I've loved that since day one. They've always told me encouraging words like "Hey, you're killing it on the show. I'm watching it right now. I can't wait to see you in the upcoming seasons." So that puts a smile to my face, and that's really how my life has changed. I received a lot of different text messages and DMs and all of that. So I'm really grateful and I'm really excited about the future.

That's so cool. You've done some big stuff before. I'm a huge fan of "The Good Place" [Young played Young Uzo] ... what was that like?

So that was back in 2016 when I filmed it, it came out in 2017. That was an incredible experience. It was really fun because that was the first time that I was really on set in a while, because I had just started acting, I was very new. And watching it back, my acting was a little bit questionable, but of course I was young. So nobody really cares about that, but it's funny to see that. And I remember my line ... everybody kept laughing about this line: "You filibuster recess. You filibuster recess!" Watching that back, people are still talking about "you filibuster recess." So that was a great experience, just to get my career on the map a little bit with the co-star roles and get a sense of that on-set environment.

'It Is Worth the Wait'

That's so cool. Before we wrap, you've got some more projects coming up. Can you tell us about those?

Yes. So I have a project called "1-800-Hot-Nite," and it's about a kid who has been struggling with finding his identity as well. His father goes to jail — he gets arrested in front of him. So he tries to escape the world, and everybody's trying to find him so he can go into the foster system. But he has his two buddies, they're like his brothers, and they try to run away, and they go on this urban odyssey and people will really enjoy that whole entire journey.

Awesome. And there was another one that I saw, "The Royal."

"The Royal." I have no idea when "The Royal" will be coming out, but I play the younger version of Willie Mays Aikens, who was a very popular baseball player back in the '70s, if I'm not mistaken. I play the younger version of him, and the premise of that project is he struggles with a lot of addiction and different hardships that he has to undergo, and you see the dramatic change in his life and the change from when he becomes an addict to a person who helps the world out.

And finally, is there anything you want to tell "Cobra Kai" fans about what's coming?

"Cobra Kai" fans, I know you are so sad about the fact that "Cobra Kai" season 5 will not be coming out for a little while, but I'll tell you one thing: it is worth the wait. The season is incredible and everybody does such a tremendous job. You will really enjoy it.

"Cobra Kai" season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.