Payne was born Allen Roberts in the Harlem area of New York City, to Allen Roberts and Barbara Reeves. Payne is the oldest of two children although he has many close family and friends he considers to be siblings. Roberts attended Pennsauken High School in Pennsauken NJ. His first acting role on television was in 1990 on The Cosby Show. During two seasons, he made several appearances in which he played Lance Rodman, Charmaine's boyfriend. He also appeared as Marcus Stokes in an episode during the second season of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. He made a guest appearance on Malcolm & Eddie as Preston.
Payne has appeared in many films, including a role with Jada Pinkett Smith in Jason's Lyric. He played a leading role in the Nelson George-produced and George and Chris Rock-written CB4 as "Dead Mike" - which was a hip-hop parody that co-starred Chris Rock, Charlie Murphy, and Khandi Alexander and in which Ice-T, Ice Cube, Shaquille O'Neal, Flavor Flav and Eazy-E made cameos. He appeared in New Jack City, Vampire in Brooklyn, Double Platinum, and The Perfect Storm. Beginning in 2006, he starred on Tyler Perry's House of Payne. He appeared in a Stacy Lattisaw video I'm Not The Same Girl.