Allen Payne – Is He Ready For A Hollywood Comeback?

Let's take a look at Allen Payne, the actor who was thought dead at one point but is very much alive and still working.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

allen payne

Relax, folks. After going through a period late last year where it was reported he had died, actor Allen Payne is back to let everyone know that reports of his demise were definitely premature. In fact, not only is Allen Payne still with the living, but he has also rejoined a television show that was considered long dead and buried.

WHO IS ALLEN PAYNE?

Allen Payne was born on July 7, 1968, in Harlem, New York. It took Payne some time before he got his career officially started, though. He was 21 years old when he got his first movie role in a small film called Rooftops. The movie was led by actor Jason Gedrick, who at the time was trying to establish himself as a leading actor as he was coming off films like The Heavenly Kid, Iron Eagle, and Stacking.

Allen Payne got his big break the following year when he was picked up on a recurring role on the hit TV series, The Cosby Show. He pulled down ten episodes on the series as Lance Rodman, Charmaine’s (Karen Malina White) boyfriend. His performance on the series did him well because in 1991, during his second season on The Cosby Show, Payne also grabbed a role in the feature film, New Jack City.

allen payne

New Jack City was notable for several reasons. It told the story of crime lord Nino Brown, portrayed by Wesley Snipes, as he rose to power while trying to avoid being brought down by a police detective, played by Ice-T. New Jack City was Ice-T’s first big jump into feature films, as it was for Allen Payne. The film also was a big steppingstone for Snipes, who had recently been seen as Willie Mays Hayes in the baseball comedy, Major League. Also of note from New Jack City is that it also starred Chris Rock. The comedian had already appeared in bit parts in earlier films, but New Jack City gave him a much bigger role. It was the first time that actor Mario Van Peebles found himself in the director’s chair. He too played a big role in the movie as Stone, commander of the police operation and Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club) was on board as Ice-T’s partner.

While New Jack City was a nice feather in Allen Payne’s cap, it was a feature film role three years later that got Payne most of his early recognition. The film was called Jason’s Lyric and saw Payne take on the lead role of Jason Alexander. The movie co-starred Jada Pinkett (now Pinkett-Smith of the infamous Oscar Awards debacle) as Lyric, Bokeem Woodbine, Eddie Griffin, and Forest Whitaker.

Jason’s Lyric tells the story of two brothers, Jason (Payne), the good one, and Joshua (Woodbine), the bad one. The story revolves around the brothers, both of whom have chosen different paths in their lives after dealing with a very traumatic childhood. Jason’s path becomes even more difficult after he meets Lyric and falls in love. He then has to decide if he should continue to feel the responsibility toward his fractured family or follow his heart and be with Lyric. He will not be able to do both.

The Walking Dead (not the zombie series) came next for Allen Payne and it told the story in flashbacks of a small group of United States Marines who have returned home after their stint in the Vietnam War. For the next decade or so, Allen Payne continued to get work. Most of his projects were of the feature film variety. He was seen in the Eddie Murphy film, Vampire in Brooklyn, and other films such as A Price Above Rubies, the George Clooney/Mark Wahlberg film The Perfect Storm, 30 Years to Life, Blue Hill Avenue, and Crossover. Payne also found time on a few TV series such as Malcolm & Eddie, All of Us, and CSI: NY.

THANK YOU, TYLER PERRY

One person who really appreciated what Allen Payne brought to the table was actor/writer/director Tyler Perry. This was none more evident when Perry brought Payne in to star in Perry’s new series, House of Payne. The series told the story of the Payne’s, a multigenerational family all living under one roof. The series was led by LaVan Davis, who played patriarch Curtis Booker T. Payne, and Cassi Davis who played Ella Williams-Payne.

The series focused on C.J. Payne (Allen Payne) and his family as they moved in with C.J.’s Uncle Curtis and Aunt Ella. As with most things created by Tyler Perry, the series had its elements of comedy and slapstick, though it did from time-to-time touch on darker subjects like substance abuse and addiction. The series initially aired from June 2006 through August 2012 when it got its walking papers from TBS after eight successful seasons.

ALLEN PAYNE HAD TO STEP AWAY

When The House of Payne ended, so did Allen Payne’s career. Payne’s career coming to a close was not because The House of Payne ended, but for a much more tragic reason. Allen Payne lost his mom in 2012 and it forced the actor to step back and take stock of life. “After my mother died, I stepped away from acting,” Payne explained to Black Doctor. “I chose to look inward and find myself, and I think that’s important when you’re an actor. You spend so much time trying to work and being interpreted by fans, executives, and people in Hollywood, that you can lose a sense of yourself. You’ve got to get back to that.”

It wasn’t just a year or two that Allen Payne removed himself from Hollywood, but six full years. It wasn’t until 2018 when Payne stepped back in front of the camera to reprise his role as C.J. Payne in the spin-off series, The Paynes. His 3-episode arc led to Tyler Perry getting a reprieve on The House of Payne. So, after lying dormant for six years, Allen Payne got back up on the horse and so did The House of Payne. So far the series revival has returned for three seasons.

DEAD OR ALIVE?

As we mentioned earlier, there had been reports late last year that Allen Payne had passed away. It started with a YouTube channel from Star News and the video was titled, R.I.P Its With Heavy Hearts We Report Sad Death Of ‘House of Payne’ Star Allen Payne Beloved One. Fans of the actor took immediate outrage at the title, claiming the actor had not died and was still with us. But if you listen to the report from Star News, what she reported on was Allen Payne’s career, never mentioning Payne dying. But the “beloved one” she did speak about was when Allen Payne lost his mother and decided to step away from acting.

It is easy to understand the confusion based on the misleading title of the video. Allen Payne’s death hoax (though this doesn’t truly appear to be one but instead a misleading title to get views) follows the many famous celebrity death hoaxes seen in the past. Of those celebrities who were prematurely sent to their grave, we find Bob Dylan, Tanya Roberts, Drake, Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper, NBA star Rick Fox (he was thought to have been on board the helicopter when Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi died tragically), Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (they supposedly died together in a car accident when they were dating), and even Will Ferrell, who was reported to have perished in a paragliding accident.

Thankfully, all these stars are still with us, as is Allen Payne.

NO SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

If you are wishing to keep up with the exploits of Allen Payne, unfortunately, he is making it difficult. Payne is intensely private with his life and therefore has no social media presence. You won’t see him on Twitter nor will you see him on Instagram. This could change in the future, but don’t bet on it.

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR ALLEN PAYNE?

As of right now, The House of Payne is the only thing that Allen Payne has got going. Although the series has moved from TBS, where it was canceled, over to BET, there has been no official word on if a fourth season will be happening. The good news with that is that there also has been no official word if BET has canceled the series. We will be sure to let you know once BET decides on The House of Payne’s future.