ALBANY, Ga. -- Holding an audience with his words, Allen Payne, an actor on a hugely successful television show, told an audience that a positive attitude, belief in God and the power of dreaming large got him to the top.
Payne, a star on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," spoke to more than 100 people at the Albany Area Black Expo in the Hilton Garden Inn on Front Street Saturday. The Expo is the first of what could be an annual event.
"We are all trying to be creative. Our lives are part of that creative process," Payne said. "Stop looking to the sky for a miracle and realize we are the miracle that God created."
Calling himself a "knucklehead" during his youth in Harlem, Payne said that he made a change in his life to show his mother he wasn't a thug.
"I had no support system at home," Payne said. "My belief in God was the only support system I had."
He found the spirit, energy and creativity he needed by starting acting classes. Those classes led Payne to acting in movies such as "New Jack City," "Jason's Lyric" and "Blue Hill Avenue." Eventually Payne was noticed by Tyler Perry and signed on for the long-running television show.
Payne believes it is because he did not accept the thoughts of those who said he could not achieve anything that he persevered and made his life a success.
"Kids today are being duped that it is cool to be poor and from the hood," Payne said. "You have to stop listening to that. Stop listening to those who say 'No you can't.' We must all say yes we can."
People at the Expo said they not only enjoyed themselves, but also felt uplifted by Payne and the other speakers.
"He said a lot of what I heard at the entrepreneur workshop this morning," said Chris Washington, of One4-U-Services Inc. a business services company. "Don't take no for an answer. Don't let negativity into your life."
Feeling that Payne engaged him with the stories of his life, Wilbur Jordan said he was glad he attended the event.
"He talked to people of all ages about saying 'Yes' to their lives," Jordan said. "We can take that to heart and find stimulating meaningful ways to live our lives."