Ciera Payton

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ciera Payton is as authentic as they come. Who else would say “I was raised in multiple New Orleans neighborhood, but identify most with the 3rd ward”? Only if you’re from New Orleans! Raised by her Nanaw (Grandmother) and her drug addicted father, it was these trying circumstances that caused Ciera to seek a way to “create her voice”. Sharing her life’s moments that proved to be defining, Ciera recalls the day her Aunt Kathy suggested that she read Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. Ciera followed her aunt’s advice and decided within herself, “if Maya got through it, I can get through it too!” Hence, her artist voice was discovered, her journey was just beginning. While in the 8th grade, Ciera lost her Nanaw to cancer and her father to prison.
It was this seemingly worst time in Ciera’s young life that would prove to be her best. It was then that Ciera would begin living with her mother in the suburbs of New Orleans East and a whole world of endless possibilities were suddenly in her hands! Remaining focused on her goal to “create her voice”, she joined her school’s “Drama Troupe” and in her sophomore year, became a part of the elite class of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). The NOCCA theater program embodied the spirit and family environment Ciera desired. Graduating from NOCCA as a junior, Ciera was then afforded the opportunity to enrol in the High School Drama program of the North Carolina School of the Arts, and continued there for her college education. Faced with the challenge of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Ciera began to give up on her dreams. But just as her past path dictated, surrender, neither failure, was an option, and so enters inspiration during Mardi Gras 2006 during celebration with friends and family: she received a call which would lead her to auditioning for Steven Seagal’s “Flight of Fury”. Suddenly, she was off to Romania to film!
College was only temporarily paused while filming, but Ciera quickly returned, earning her BFA in Acting from the North Carolina School of the Arts. She would also continue her work as Associate Director of What Girls Know, a theater program based in New Orleans, geared toward inner city teenage girls.
Through theater and acting techniques the girls are able to find their voice and inner strength, not unlike Ciera. Ciera has also written and performs her One-Woman show titled “Michael’s Daughter”, in which she illustrates the journey through her childhood, growing up in New Orleans, sharing prison letters between herself and her father, Michael. Ciera currently maintains residences in Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans.

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