Image Source: AMC

King Ezekiel might be thisclose to renouncing his throne on , thanks to his recent battle blunder and the of his four-legged sidekick , but the man who portrays him, Khary Payton, is well on his way to the top — even if he doesn’t sport his character’s signature dreadlocks in real life.

Before he became the tiger-taming, self-proclaimed monarch who just loves to smile, Payton was steadily working his way up within the movie, TV show, and video game circuits for more than a decade. So, if you’re wondering why the “cool dude” who’s commanded such fealty from his tiny community seems so familiar on The Walking Dead, here’s where you may have seen, or heard, him before (and no, it probably wasn’t at the zoo).

For fans of the soap opera General Hospital, Payton should stick out for his brief stint as Dr. Terrell Jackson, the physician who stumbles into his job at the hospital thanks to the same kinda can-do spirit that informs his current tenure as the Kingdom’s leader.

More than likely, though, Payton’s more known for his audio adventures than his onscreen appearances.

After spending a few years keeping the lights on by way of bit parts on the silver and small screens, Payton’s compelling cadence earned him a long-lasting voice role as Cyborg in children’s animated superhero series like Teen Titans Go!, DC Super Hero Girls, and Justice League Action, to name a few. In all, he’s voiced the character for hundreds of episodes across multiple series and even games, so chances are, if you’ve ever tuned into see the half-metal character save the day, you’ve heard Payton getting silly behind the mic to make all that magic happen. And he doesn’t seem to be slowing down with that role just yet; he’ll be voicing Cyborg again for the big-screen adaptation of Teen Titans in 2018.

Image Source: Cartoon Network

But Payton has also parlayed his sound-slinging skills to other cartoon shows, including voicing Rafiki on TV’s The Lion Guard, playing Grimlock on Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and handling a bevy of characters like Kaldur’ahm (known as Aqualad) and Black Manta for Young Justice.

Meanwhile, gamers might hear him speak on the show and be reminded of his voice work in video games such as World of Warcraft: Legion, Batman: Arkham Underworld, Final Fantasy XV, and Mafia III, among others.

Suffice it to say, even if your eyes weren’t familiar with Khary Payton before his time on The Walking Dead, your ears might be more acquainted with his tenor — which explains a lot about why he’s slowly but surely starting to best Rick in the way of for his followers.


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