Payne was born Allen Roberts in Harlem, New York to African American parents. Roberts attended Pennsauken High School in Pennsauken NJ. His first exposure 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.