Talent Guide

Thymaya Payne

  • Discipline:Director, Writer
  • Program Year:Directing Lab 2014, Screenwriting Lab 2013


Thymaya Payne is a University of Chicago and AFI graduate born in New York and currently resides in Los Angeles. Payne has directed a number of films including the shorts: Apparent Horizon, starring Peter Coyote, Let’s Not and Say We Did, and Coup De Grace, which premiered at the HBO Latino Film festival. In the summer of 2010 he completed his documentary film Love Limits, which was later released by Icarus Films.

In 2008, Payne began a four-year journey to direct and produce an in-depth documentary about Somali piracy and its root causes called Stolen Seas. The film premiered at the Locarno Film festival and was awarded the Boccolino’ D’oro. Later, at the Palm Springs Film Festival, Stolen Seas won the John Schlesinger award for best Documentary. A dangerous 90-minute immersion in a world where lawlessness applies to all sides” said Variety. The New York Times called Stolen Seas Magnificent. Stolen Seas was theatrically released in early 2013. Nairobi was workshopped and developed as part of the 2013 Film Independent Screenwriting Lab.

Current Project



When a seasoned war correspondent is executed in a posh Nairobi suburb, his 25 year-old mentee/lover is forced to confront corrupt politicians, Somali extremists and her own demons and become the reporter she was destined to be.