‘Wendy Williams: The Movie’: Ciera Payton Was Triggered By Playing This Part of Wendy Williams’ Life

How you doin’? Wendy Williams has been a fixture in pop culture for three decades, first rising to fame on the radio and later as the host of her TV talk show. Williams has had a tumultuous life, much of which has played out in the public eye. And now, Williams and her legions of fans will get to experience the story themselves.

Wendy Williams
Wendy Williams attends her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, 2019 | Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Wendy Williams’ life story is coming to the silver screen

Wendy Williams: The Movie is premiering on Lifetime on January 30. The biopic follows Williams’ life from her career as a radio shock jock in the 1990s to becoming the host of her popular syndicated talk show. Along the way, fans will get a never-before-seen look into Williams’ marriage to Kevin Hunter, which ended very publicly in 2019 after he fathered a child with his longtime mistress.

Wendy Williams: The Movie is just one part of the Wendy story being told now. The biopic is accompanied by Wendy Williams: What a Mess!, a documentary that follows Williams and many of the people she’s worked with throughout her career speaking about who she is as a person.

Actress 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
Actress 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

Ciera Payton plays Wendy Williams

A role as iconic as Wendy Williams needed to filled by an actor who could capture Williams’ larger-than-life personality while also sporting her larger-than-life chest. Ciera Payton took on the role of Williams and the challenge of doing her story justice.

Payton’s career has been on an upward trajectory in recent years. She had several one-off guest spots on shows throughout the 2010s including Californication, General Hospital, and The Walking Dead. In the second half of the decade, however, Payton was struggling to make ends meet, but everything changed when her agent got a call from Tyler Perry.

Perry cast Payton to star in A Madea Family Funeral, and has continued to work with her on his BET show The Oval. Playing Williams in Wendy Williams: The Movie is perhaps Payton’s most recognizable role to date.

Ciera Payton attends GBK Productions And Angeleno Pre-Oscar Celebration at Kimpton La Peer Hotel on February 05, 2020 in West Hollywood, California | John Wolfsohn/Getty Images
Ciera Payton attends GBK Productions And Angeleno Pre-Oscar Celebration at Kimpton La Peer Hotel on February 05, 2020 in West Hollywood, California | John Wolfsohn/Getty Images

RELATED: Wendy Williams Has the Best Way of Introducing Guests on Her Show in the Age of Coronavirus

Ciera Payton struggled with playing 1 part of Wendy Williams’ life

In the 1990s, Williams was known for being a straight-talking radio host. But behind the scenes, she was struggling with a cocaine addiction that threatened to derail her whole life.

Having to play Williams through this part of her life was a hard emotion for Payton to tap into because of how close she is to the issue. Payton’s father also struggled with cocaine addiction, and having to embody that struggle herself hit very close to home for her.

Williams herself spoke with her on-screen counterpart on The Wendy Williams Show ahead of the biopic’s release. “He’s had some struggles over the years with substance abuse,” Payton admitted. “I always said if I ever had some of those scenes that touched on some of that I was going to call my dad first.”

“So he taught you how to cut up a line on a mirror? Taught you how to snort properly?” Williams asked her bluntly. Payton revealed that she and the crew had her father on FaceTime telling them how to make the scenes look authentic.

“‘I told you I was gonna help your career some kind of way!'” she recalled him saying. “Thanks, dad!”