Ciera Payton Reenacts Wendy Williams Fainting in 2017 in First Look at Lifetime Biopic

The upcoming Wendy Williams biopic will explore the scary moment the talk show host fainted on air after overheating in her Halloween costume in 2017.

In PEOPLE's exclusive first look photo from the Lifetime movie, set to premiere next year, actress Ciera Payton (The Oval, She's Gotta Have It) reenacts the scene as Williams, 56.

In the image, Payton, 34, is dressed in Williams' memorable Statue of Liberty costume that included a green wig, a sparkly crown and a long-sleeved sequin dress.

Payton is captured with a stunned look on her face — similar to what viewers saw just moments before Williams dropped to the ground.

It was about 48 minutes into the broadcast when Williams began slurring her words while getting ready to kick off the "How You Doin'? Halloween Costume Contest."

Slowing down, she began swaying back and forth before stumbling backwards and catching herself. Visibly frightened, Williams looked to the camera for help and raised her hand up to her crown. She then swiftly dropped to the floor, crew rushing to help her as the show cut to commercial.

The show returned nearly six minutes later, and a recovered Williams explained what happened. "That was not a stunt," she said. "I'm overheated in my costume and I did pass out. But you know what, I'm a champ, and I'm back!" she said as the audience cheered.

Opposite Payton, P-Valley's Morocco Omari will star as Williams' ex-husband Kevin Hunter, Deadline reported in September.

Williams is an executive producer on the biopic, titled Wendy Williams: The Movie, alongside Will Packer and Sheila Ducksworth. Production began September.

The project will give fans an intimate look at Williams' rise to fame, exploring the challenges she faced from her early days as a radio star to the launch of her daily syndicated talk show, The Wendy Williams Show.

The film will be paired with a feature-length documentary in which Williams will discuss her path to success and the many experiences she's had along the way.

Speaking to PEOPLE recently, Williams said the biopic "is going to very exciting."

"The movie is called Wendy Williams: The Movie. It's so funny, because we went through so many titles only to come back to the most basic thing," she said. "I know the date it's going to be out, but I can't talk to you about that now. But soon-ish. They're doing a Wendy weekend on Lifetime, and I'm looking forward to it."

Williams finalized her divorce from Hunter, her husband of over 20 years, in January. Williams has also cut ties with her ex professionally: He was removed as executive producer of The Wendy Williams Show, and Williams dissolved The Hunter Foundation — the non-profit organization the couple founded in 2014.

The two share son Kevin Jr., 20.

Earlier this year, Williams took time off from the Wendy Williams Show due to health concerns surrounding her Graves' disease, an autoimmune disease that leads to an overactive thyroid gland.

She is currently hosting the show's 12th season, which premiered on Sep. 21 and airs weekdays (check local listings).






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