Wendy Williams Fans Helped Ciera Payton Get the Role In ‘Wendy Williams: The Movie’

How you doin’? Wendy Williams‘ new Lifetime biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie is a candid (and often upsetting) retelling of the talk show host’s tumultuous life. The premiere was accompanied by Wendy Williams: What a Mess!, a documentary that gives fans the real-life side of the story of Williams’ rise to stardom.

Wendy Williams
Wendy Williams | Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Wendy Williams has worked on other Lifetime biopics

Wendy Williams’ Lifetime biopic has been in the works for some time, even before work on the project even began. Williams knows specifically what it’s like to create one behind the scenes.

In 2014, Williams signed on as a producer for the Lifetime biopic Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. The movie faced backlash from fans of the late singer — as well as her family — for not doing her legacy justice.

Williams told Billboard about her involvement. “Lifetime needed to tell this story correctly,” she said of her decision. “Fans won’t say, ‘Oh, my God, how could you disgrace her memory?’ And nosy people like me who want to find out things [about her upbringing and R. Kelly] will also be fine.”

Ciera Payton attends the Black Rebirth Collective event at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center on January 18, 2020 in Los Angeles, California | Robin L. Marshall/Getty Images

Wendy Williams has a friendly relationship with the actor who plays her

In Wendy Williams: The Movie, the larger-than-life personality is played by frequent Tyler Perry collaborator Ciera Payton. Because Williams wanted to be so hands-on with how her life story was told, she insisted that she and Payton have a friendly relationship.

Williams welcomed Payton to The Wendy Williams Show ahead of the biopic’s release and talked about everything from the movie to Payton’s career and the things they have in common.

“I felt as though it was really important, because you’re playing me, that I wanted to have your own personal cell number, and she mine, and we made friends away from Lifetime,” Williams told Payton and her studio audience. 

Actress Ciera Payton attends The LadyLike Foundation's 11th Annual Women of Excellence Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 11, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
Actress Ciera Payton attends The LadyLike Foundation’s 11th Annual Women of Excellence Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 11, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

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‘Wendy Williams Show’ watchers helped Ciera Payton get the role

Payton mentions in the beginning of their interview that her mom has always dreamt of her daughter being on The Wendy Williams Show. It turns out she wasn’t the only “Wendy watcher” that wanted Payton to play Williams on screen.

“So for Wendy watchers, they wanted her to be casted and I saw this,” Williams recounted. “If you’ll remember, when I got the deal with Lifetime, I told you that I was working on my life story, and I said ‘I’ll let you know as we go on who we cast and all that stuff.”

“Ciera heard about this, or at least my Wendy watchers did, and they were telling you that you should play me,” she continued.

Payton shouted out two Twitter users who first tweeted her about the opportunity in summer 2019 and encouraged her to try out for the role. She decided to go for it, and it obviously paid off.

“I’m just doing my thing auditioning and stuff, and I was like, ‘Heck yeah! Why not? Let’s get into those shoes,” Payton smiled, “so shoutout to the Wendy watchers.”