Meet your new King, “Walking Dead” fans. The AMC series has cast Khary Payton as Ezekiel, the leader of the new survivor community, The Kingdom.
The Kingdom has yet to be introduced on the show, but Ezekiel — and his pet tiger Shiva — made their debut during “The Walking Dead” Season 7 trailer premiere at San Diego Comic-Con. The promo doesn’t feature too much about the newcomer, but he does have one line.
“I am King Ezekiel,” he says. “Welcome to The Kingdom.”
“Walking Dead” viewers will be introduced to Ezekiel and The Kingdom through Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James). In the Season 6 finale Carol was shot multiple times by a member of The Saviors. Morgan broke his code not to kill in order to save her. However, they were far from home. Two men, wearing what appeared to be armor, showed up and offered them medical attention at their camp. However, the season ended before fans were able to see where they came from.
In the comics, The Kingdom is a safe haven located at an old high school that is surrounded by buses and metal sheets. A former zookeeper, Ezekiel, keeps the order — with a little help from his pet tiger. Like the Hilltop Colony, who viewers met in Season 6, The Kingdom also pays The Saviors in order to keep the peace. Eventually The Kindom, Hilltop Colony & Alexandria strike a deal to team up to fight Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his group.
Khary Payton has been working in the industry since 1994. The actor has lent his voice to a lot of projects, including “Teen Titans,” “Friday: The Animated Series,” “Ben 10,” “Transformers: Robots in Disguise” and “The Lion Guard.” He’s also been on the soap opera “General Hospital,” where he played pediatrician and surgeon Terrell Jackson.
Payton has yet to talk openly about his new role as Ezekiel, but he did tweet the following message after the Season 7 trailer was released at Comic-Con:
"The Walking Dead" Season 7 premieres on AMC on Oct. 23.