Pays is the daughter of actor and talent scout Howard Reginald Pays and actress Joan Miller. They first pursued a career as a model before she began acting lessons at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London at the age of 22 years.
In 1984, she debuted as a film actress in the movie Oxford Blues. It was, inter alia, as Theora Jones in the television series Max Headroom and as Tina McGee to Flash Known - The Red Lightning. In the film Saigon - Death knows no law of 1988, she played the role of a nun Soeur Nicole alongside Willem Dafoe and Gregory Hines.
1984-1987 Pays was married in first marriage to British producer Peter Kohn. Since 1988 she is married to the American actor Corbin Bernsen, with whom she has four sons.