Articles about castmembers
- JoMarie Payton-Noble
enjoys success in `Family Matters' 1996
- Talk City Presents:
Actress and Singer JoMarie Payton, Interview from July 7,
- JoMarie Payton (Short biography
JoMarie Payton-Noble enjoys
success in `Family Matters'
Abiola Sinclair, New York Amsterdam News, 1996
She was only 6 and already
had definite ideas about herself and her life. She
refused, for example, to play Little Red Riding Hood in
her class presentation for Open School Day. "I
didn't like the silly, red-hooded cape that went with the
role," laughs JoMarie Payton-Noble. "I wanted
to be one of the flowers in the forest because they got to wear
beautiful pink tutus."
Payton-Noble, now in her
eighth starring year as the effervescent mom of the
Winslow household in ABC-TV's "Family Matters,"
was born in Albany, Ga., the second oldest of nine
children and the oldest girl. She learned early to stand
up for herself. "In that family, what other choice
did I have?" she smiles.
The Harriette Winslow of
"Family Matters" actually came into existence
two years earlier with Payton-Noble as the tart-tongued
elevator operator of the ABC-TV series "Perfect
Strangers." Harriette became such a hit with viewers
that the producers created "Family Matters" as
a spin-off series to star her and cast Reginald Vel
Johnson as her husband, Chicago police officer Carl
Payton-Noble wasn't yet a
year old when her family moved to Opa-Locka, Fla., a
suburb of Miami, where most of her brothers and sisters
were born. Her mother, a maid, and her father, a
construction worker, separated when their eldest daughter
was 11. "My mother was a tower of strength, "
says Payton-Noble, "but when she was at work, all of
the children looked to me to take care of things. I
learned how from my mother. She was my mentor and biggest
supporter. No matter how hard or long she had to work,
she was in the audience for every performance I ever did
from the time I was 6 until I left Florida for California."
Payton-Noble arrived in
Los Angeles in the mid-1970s in the touring company of
the musical comedy "Purlie," with Robert
Guillaume, a tour which had begun months earlier at the
Coconut Grove Theatre in Miami. Popular locally as an
actress, variety performer and club singer, she had been
working in an accounting office when she learned that
they were casting for the "Purlie" road company.
With no music, no resume, no head shot and not even a
car, Payton-Noble talked her way on stage and auditioned
a capella. "I just knew it was my time," she
was scheduled to begin an overseas tour to Paris, Payton-Noble
opted to remain in Los Angeles. "I fell in love with
the city, especially the mountains and hills which seemed
to be in the background wherever I looked," she
But breaking into the
business wasn't easy. She found a tiny apartment in the
Wilshire area, worked as a temp and was given what she
considered to be her best friend, a 20-year-old pink and
white Chevy which she promptly named "Betsy."
"I was always broke but I was learning about the
business, about having photos and music charts and
resumes. And I remembered all the things my mother had
taught me -- about being self-reliant," she says.
"I taught myself to change the oil and to tune
`Betsy's' engine and to rotate her badly worn tires. And
to this day, I still know where to get day-old bread and
large economy size jars of peanut butter and jelly.
They're still my favorite sandwiches."
When her agent told her
the "Redd Foxx Variety Show" was looking for a
"forties-style jazz singer," Payton-Noble
assured him, "That's what I do best." She wound
up doing more then a dozen of his shows, including seven
as Foxx's wife in a recurring skit, "Alfonse and
Victoria." She subsequently did series pilots for
Paramount and ABC, but neither sold. "But I was
finally able to pay off all my credit card bills, "
With all this, Payton-Noble
still found it necessary to take a full time job at a
travel agency, a job she held for over seven years and
one she didn't give up until working on "Perfect
Strangers" for three months. She and the agency took
to each other. Her boss understood her need to go out on
auditions and to take time off when a television or film
role came up. She was trained, encouraged and eventually
advanced to become the very well-paid sales
administration manager of the business.
During the years Payton-Noble
was with the travel agency, she was able to make guest-starring
and recurring appearances on "Silver Spoons, "
"Small Wonder" and the "New Odd Couple,"
and to film key roles in such motion pictures as "Body
and Soul" with Leon Isaac Kennedy, " Deal of
the Century" with Chevy Chase and Gregory Hines,
"Colors" with Sean Penn and Robert Duvall,
"Cross My Heart" with Paul Reiser and Martin
Short, and "Troop Beverly Hills" with Shelley
Long and Craig T. Nelson.
Presents: Actress and Singer JoMarie Payton, Interview from
July 7, 1998
JoMarie Payton just wrapped her ninth season as the
effervescent mom of the Winslow household in CBS-TV's
'Family Matters.' She has guested on the ABC-TV series,
'Perfect Strangers,' toured with the company of the
musical, 'Purlie,' and appeared on 'Silver Spoons,'
'Small Wonder' and 'The New Odd Couple.' Chat with
JoMarie about her career and her new jazz CD, produced by
pianist-arranger Billy Mitchek, featuring jazz great
Speaker: Talk City Presents(tm), in association
with iXl Live(tm) welcomes you to a conversation with our
special guest ** JoMarie Payton **
Questions: mericcc says: JoMarie welcome to Talk
City! Tell us, how did you get to be one of the most famous "Moms" on
JoMariePayton: LOL I don't think of myself as one
of the most famous Moms, but thank you anyway! I don't
know - I guess it's the good people out there!
Questions: mac-zay says: has it been an enjoyment
playing as Harriette on Family Matters?
JoMariePayton: Oh, I had ten and a half beautiful
years playing Harriette on Family Matters. But there was
nothing else I could do with that character. It was time
for me to move on, and I feel like I made a good decision!
Questions: bellweather says: What is a typical day
on the set like?
JoMariePayton: Well, since I'm the kind of person
who wakes up in a great mood, a typical day was to get
up, go in, read the script, and understand what we we're
doing. When you've done a show for that many years, it's
like leaving my house and going to another house almost!
Questions: fielderschoice says: Wasn't your show
originally on ABC? when did you switch over to CBS? and
is it in syndication yet?
JoMariePayton: Yes, the show was originally on
ABC, and we switched over to CBS because the producers
felt the show had more air in it, and CBS wanted to take
advantage of it. Oh, the show's been in syndication for
Questions: elevatorshews says: In 9 years on
Television how has your role changed? Have you been
allowed to grow the character in ways you wanted to?
JoMariePayton: Well, in 9 years the character
basically stayed the same, not that that's a bad thing.
She was a good, strong person. A loving wife, a good
mother, a friend to everybody. Harriette was a good role
model. I didn't feel I had to fight a lot to have the
writers do things the way I wanted to have done, she was
pretty much set. I would have liked her to have a little
bit more fun, but she was set; she was foundational, and
there was nothing much you could do with her - which is
one of the reasons I got a little tired with her, and had
to move on.
Questions: themrbon says: So, How do you like
being a part of an Afro American Show that went on for so
long? do you think it inspired some of the Afro-Americans
in the Television industry?
JoMariePayton: Yes, I feel real good about it. I
think we were really positive images for everyone, not
just for African Americans. Something that people could
be inspired by. The Family Matters team was
an all American family - we were all families. We were
Mom, Dad, children, grandparents, next door neighbor and
everything else. I think that's part of the reason we
stayed on so long, because people related to us, and
didn't feel intimidated.
Questions: slinky says: JoMarie did you have any
idea your show would be such a hit during your first
JoMariePayton: Oh, absolutely! I believed and knew
that Family Matters would go beyond any two or three
seasons! I knew from day one that it would go. I had
prayed and asked God for a project. I didn't know what it
was going to be, or who was going to be in it, but it was
Family Matters, and I knew it would have longevity to it,
and it did.
whammo says: JoMarie where is home for you now? and who
are your singing idols?
JoMariePayton: Home for me is Los Angeles, I live
in the Los Angeles area. My singing idols are anyone I
can understand - if they have emotion and they can touch
me, then they're my singing idols. Lou Rawls, Frank
Sinatra, Dinah Washington, Carmen MacRae... the list goes
on and on and on.
Questions: jazzyeric says: What genre of jazz will
we find on your CD, and when can we expect to see it in
JoMariePayton: Well, I'm hoping that you'll be
able to see it in stores by the end of summer. And it's
smooth, romantic, sexy, easy-to- listen-to jazz. It has a
nineties mood to it, but with a southern groove. How
'bout that? :-)
Questions: jazzerama says: How long have you been
JoMariePayton: I've been singing since I was four
or five years old. My dad would stand me up on his car,
and have me sing all his favorite people - Sarah Vaughan,
Dinah Washington - and I could do every little lick they
could do. I sang in high school and after high school,
and it was something I always liked to do!
Questions: kdaddy says: Where and when can i see
you performing music from your new cd?
JoMariePayton: I've been performing around town in
L.A., and on August 2 I'll be live in concert. The album
is titled 'Southern Shadows', and it was titled by my
husband, who also co-wrote the title track to the album.
And it's named after his novel, Southern Shadows
Questions: jazzyeric says: Can you give us a
couple of titles off the album?
JoMariePayton: Sure! "What a Difference A Day
Makes," "My Funny Valentine," "This
Masquerade" (made famous by George Benson), "Teach
Me Tonight,"... Oh, it's full of goodies!
Questions: slyspectre says: How did you get
JoMariePayton: I got started in acting in the
first grade, when I was cast in the role of Little Red
Riding Hood, and I didn't want that role. I wanted to be
one of the ballerinas in the forest with their cute
little tutus, and I was stuck in a red hood with a cape!
Then I acted in plays and operettas, and did community
theatre. It just kept going on and on. :-)
Questions: curry-us says: is anyone else in your
family involved in show business?
JoMariePayton: No, not really. I have a brother
who was an excellent drummer. He played on a couple of
albums, but didn't do anything much with it. My Mom and
Dad were great singers, but they weren't in show business.
It's just crazy me, I guess. ;-) If I weren't in show
business I'd be teaching school, probably junior high or
Questions: moof says: JoMarie have you been
recognized in any strange countries or places?
JoMariePayton: All over the world! Africa,
Australia, Paris France, Europe... this is even before
Family Matters came along, because Perfect Strangers and
Silver Spoons were in those countries, and I had
recurring roles on those shows. And it feels REAL good.
Questions: purplepower says: You're African
American and a Woman in Hollywood. Is that hard? Do you
feel stereotyped? How has it impacted you most?
JoMariePayton: Yes, it is hard. It's very hard. I
don't really feel stereotyped, because I haven't done
anything that I feel is stereotypical. In my 29 year
career I've been fortunate not to have to do anything
I've been ashamed of doing. The biggest impact for me
personally was the opportunity to do things that people
admired and liked, which gave me a voice because I was
believed to be a good person. Which I am. :-) I think I'm
admired a bit by my Afro-American peers, and that's a
nice thing too, although it sounds egotistical, I'm still
proud of the work that I've done. :-)
Questions: masterdman says: I bet Family Matters
fought a lot of racism; did it?
JoMariePayton: I think it made people see black
families in a different light. As an example of family
life, Family Matters was just another example, and
because it was a kinder, gentler show, with good morals,
I think it changed people's attitudes about African
Americans. And did it calm the waters a bit, as far as
racism went. Sure, I think it did that.
Questions: kdaddy says: JoMarie, will i see you on
the big screen anytime soon?
I certainly hope so! LOL From your mouth to God's ears.
:-) I'm looking at a lot of different projects, and the
big screen is definitely in the very near future. I'd
like to play very dramatic roles in film. Dramatic,
honest and real-life characters. I like the real stuff...
to go back into the woods, find the unsung heros and
present their life stores. That's the sort of thing I can
do; I started out dramatically.
Questions: destinyheadquarters says: What are your
JoMariePayton: My future projects... I just
finished the jazz CD. I also just finished a voice-over
for a wonderful pilot (I can't tell you the name of it,
but I think you're going to love her!). I've been in the
business for 29 years, on stage, television, film, and
recording. I'm just open for everything! :-)
Questions: juliaw says: did you have a mentor>
JoMariePayton: Yes, I did. My first mentors were
my mother and my grandmother. Then Peggy O'Hara, my
highschool drama teacher. She pushed me and encouraged
me; told me that I was beautiful inside and out, and that
I could do anything. My husband has given me a second
wind too, which is why I'm feeling an extra surge of
creativity. He's my mentor right now. He encourages me
and pushes me, and tells me I can do these things.
Questions: nicknnora says: Have you pulled any
experience from being raised in a large family into your
role on Family Matters?
JoMariePayton: Oh, absolutely! In real life all
those things go hand in hand. My childhood, and the way I
was raised goes into everything I do. And it's a
wonderful thing, because you're continuously learning.
Questions: deedle2x says: You make a great TV mom!!!
Do you have any kids of your own and if you do, what
advice have you given on the show that you think is most
helpful in real parenting?
JoMariePayton: Well thank you very much, deedle!
:-) That was a lovely comment! I have one daughter. She's
fourteen, her name is Chantale. The advice that I've
given on the show that I've given to my own daughter? I
told my TV daughter a lesson on confidence: that she
could be a wonderful and productive person with a dollar
or a dime. You can, if you keep sight of God, and keep
sight of self... you can do anything you want to do. It's
for the good of not only you, but of everybody else.
Questions: jazzbakery says: Any memorable bloopers
from the show you care to share? I bet there have been a
JoMariePayton: Gosh, there were so many! Oh
goodness! I just went through nine years of bloopers!
None that stand out more so than others though... they
were all great! :-) As a matter of fact, they would make
a show in themselves!
Questions: dolittle says: JoMarie if you watch an
old episode from the first season can you see how far you
have grown as an actress?
JoMariePayton: I'd be a fool if I said no. The
more you do a thing, the better you get at it. Your
timing, expressions and understanding of the character
get better. From the first episode right up until the
last, sure I saw the growth, and I was very pleased with
it. I believe you don't mess with anything that works.
Evidently we were doing something right, so I wouldn't go
back and change a thing. :-)
Questions: masterdman says: who plays the
instruments in the CD and live?
JoMariePayton: We have a slew of really beautiful
musicians. Gerald Albright, a wonderful saxophonist. John
Bolivar, Brian O'Rourke, a fabulous keyboard player, and
Stanley Behrens, who plays just an exceptional harmonica.
I'm very proud of the CD! And of course Billy Mitchell,
who produced and arranged the songs, also plays keyboards.
He's a multi-talented individual, whom I love dearly. :-)
Questions: singersdotcom says: Earlier you
mentioned a "southern groove..." how do you
define that? :-)
JoMariePayton: A southern groove is something
that's very smooth and easy going. It's very honest, and
makes you feel like you're right at home. That's how I'd
describe it. :-)
Questions: mericcc says: Whoops! Our time is
nearly up! JoMarie, thank you so much for your time today.
We hope you come back to see us again soon! Before we
close are there any comments you'd like to make? Perhaps
something we didn't get a chance to cover?
JoMariePayton: I'd just like to say thank you all
so very much.
Love and God's blessings to everybody!
As the spotlight dims, tonight's show comes to an end. We
thank you, our great audience, and a
very special Thank You to our guest ......... JoMarie
Payton ............ We look forward to seeing you again
soon. Talk City Presents is produced in conjunction with
iXl Live(tm) & Talk City(tm), a production of
LiveWorld Productions Inc. Copyright 1998
JoMarie Payton (Short
JoMarie Payton portrays "the mom,"
Harriette Winslow, on "Family Matters." Since
beginning her career as a performer entertaining family
and friends, JoMarie is "a natural." Following
her early at-home shows, she attended Carol City High
School in Miami, where she performed in many of the
school's variety shows.
As Mama in a high school
production of "A Raisin In The Sun," JoMarie
got excellent reviews, and a spot in one of the area's
most respected local theater groups. While in the group,
JoMarie met Peggy O'Hara, who became her mentor in those
early years. With Peggy's encouragement, JoMarie attended
a local college. Peggy then helped arrange a partial
scholarship to the University of Miami, where JoMarie
studied drama. Throughout her college career, JoMarie
continued to appear in various local performances and
gained quite a following. This garnered her a spot in the
When the play ended its
run in Los Angeles, JoMarie decided to remain there,
despite the fact that she had no family or friends in the
area. She stuck it out in the new city and decided to
make a serious go of an acting career. She began landing
roles almost immediately on such programs as "The
Redd Foxx Variety Show," "The New Odd Couple,"
"Small Wonder," "227" and "Frank's
Place." She has also appeared in plays and musical
revues as a vocalist.
JoMarie, who now lives in
Inglewood, California, enjoys swimming, sewing and music.