Patton was born in in Los Angeles to Joyce, a white school teacher, and, Charles Patton, an African-American lawyer. She grew up in Los Angeles, attending Hamilton High School. She started college at UC Berkeley, transferred to USC Film School after her first year, and graduated magna cum laude. Shortly after completing her studies, she won a three-month assignment making documentaries for PBS. Later she worked for the Discovery Health Channel as producer for the show Medical Diaries.