Monday, September 23, 2013

Actress Sheds Light on Children of Incarcerated Parents in One-Woman Play

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Ciera Payton sets out to give a voice to these often under-represented youth

In 2010, a report from Pew Charitable Trusts found that of the nation’s 2.3 million inmates, more than half were parents of children under 18. Of these inmates, nearly 1 million are African American. Research has shown that these children are at a higher risk of dropping out of school, engaging in delinquent behaviors and becoming incarcerated themselves.

One story of a daughter’s experience with her father’s incarceration is the subject of the one-woman play, “Michael’s Daughter,” created by actress Ciera Payton.  Best known for her roles on “Days of Our Lives” and “The Closer,” Payton tells her story of what it was like growing up in the 3rd Ward of New Orleans in a 2 bedroom shot-gun house that was home to her drug addicted father, grandmother and alcoholic aunts. Acknowledging the positive benefits of the arts in her upbringing, Payton created and now performs “Michael’s Daughter” to captivated audiences around the country, sharing her wounds and healing, while artfully portraying those who affected her childhood the most.  Her performance gives a universal appeal and impact, transcending race, gender, and economic class, touching people of all backgrounds and moving many to search out how they might be able to help children of incarcerated parents.  The goal for “Michael’s Daughter” is to enable it as a tool of healing for youths and communities around the country.

Payton’s ultimate goal? To provide creative outlets for inner city children through a variety of youth oriented programs.  She has learned many valuable lessons through performing and has found it is therapeutic and more notably, a way to confront the continuous cycle of poverty, violence, and addiction, as well as the effects of incarceration that plague minority youth.

On Saturday, November 23, 2013, Payton will perform “Michael’s Daughter” in the 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC.  In order to make the presentation a success, an IndieGoGo campaign is currently running to raise funds for the production.  Perks for donating range from social media shout-outs by the actress to a one-on-one meet and greet with Payton.  A portion of donations received through the campaign will benefit Step Up Women’s Network and Girls For A Change.  In Payton’s own words, “Michael’s Daughter is not just a play, it’s a movement!”

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Payton performs Michael's Daughter at the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival. Photo: Scott Mitchell

Find out more about the IndieGoGo campaign and view the promo video by visiting  Tickets for the NY show may be purchased at 

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