Tyler Perry's 'The Paynes' Star Opens Up About Playing an Abused Woman

Stephanie Charles says its her job to be a voice for abused women in her new role on Tyler Perry's The Paynes


Like most Tyler Perry projects, The Paynes is focusing on modern-day topics, and breakout star Stephanie Charles is welcoming the challenge.

“Nyla is a mother of two who’s finding solace while volunteering at a church and an after school program while she’s dealing with an abusive relationship with her boyfriend,” Charles tells PEOPLE of her character. “It’s very important to touch on this topic. I’m speaking for woman that are in similar situations as Nyla and it’s my job to do the best I can to tell that story as authentically as possible and do it justice.”


In October, Perry opened up to PEOPLE’s Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle about the physical, mental and sexual abuse he endured as a child.

“It wasn’t a pleasant childhood,” he said in an episode of The Jess Cagle Interview (streaming now on People TV).

“[My father] had a lot of issues,” Perry said. “But the thing that helped me get over it and still take care of him today is, I took a moment to find out more about him and his childhood and where he came from, and his was way more horrific than mine. So it kind of formed the person that he was.”

The actor-writer-producer revealed that he later forgave his father figure — and how he later learned that Emmitt Perry Sr. isn’t his biological parent.

Charles, who says Perry is a “warm, hard-working person,” says she couldn’t be more grateful working for “just a really good individual” and praises Perry for his honesty, her family and friends, and most important, her faith, to get her to where she is today.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts to Haitian parents, the actress moved to Haiti to live with grandmother at two years old, where she learned how to speak both English and Haitian Creole. At the young age of 7, Charles moved to Los Angeles and began her pursuit of happiness.

“I definitely always wanted to become an actress,” she says. “I definitely waned to be an overall performer. Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson were my inspirations. My brother and I would play around all the time and pretend we were in a scary movie or an action film. I always knew I wanted to do this.”

“I never thought of any other direction that I wanted to do, to be honest with you,” she adds. “But I have thought, ‘Am I supposed to do this?’ It’s tough out there. Every time I questioned myself, I asked for a sign and He always delivered. You work so hard but you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Paynes airs on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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