Actor known for his iconic portrayal of Omar on HBO’s Wire, passes.
As reported by CNN and the New York Post, the beloved actor was found unresponsive in his luxury New York apartment with investigators reporting that drug paraphernalia was found near his body. At the time of filing, an investigation was ongoing.
“Our family has been shaken to the core of the loss of our Mike. Thank you to everyone who contacted us, flooded us with love, and more importantly, prayers. I will miss my brother, my best friend and birthday partner in this realm, but I know he will continue to watch over me and our family in heaven as he did on earth,” Michelle Chambers, Williams’ sister, said in a statement.
On camera, millions were mesmerized by the versatile actor who is best known for his iconic role as Omar Little, a shotgun-wielding character who made his living robbing drug dealers on HBO’s grounding breaking HBO series “The Wire.”
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Williams had the visual distinction of sporting a deep, distinctive scar that ran down his face, the result of a “ballroom brawl.”
The son of a mother from Nassau, Bahamas, and a father from South Carolina, Williams was raised in the Vanderveer Projects in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and went to George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School.
His first foray into entertainment, at the age of 22, was as a dancer for artists, including Missy Elliot, Ginuwine, Crystal Waters, and Technotronic and has appeared in more than 50 music videos, according to TV Guide. Williams made his film debut in the movie, “Bullet,” playing the character High Top. It was the late Tupac Shakur who discovered his talent and cast him, according to Williams’ website. Williams went on to play roles in movies such as Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead,” “The Road,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “Inherent Vice,” “Life During Wartime,” “12 Years a Slave,” “I Think I Love My Wife” and “Wonderful World.”
Williams amassed a number of accolades during his career, earning five Emmy nominations. His first was in 2015 for his portrayal of Jack Gee, the husband of Bessie Smith, in the HBO biopic “Bessie” and another followed two years later for his part in “The Night Of.”
Of his iconic performance in “The Wire,” President Barack Obama (said in 2012) that Williams’ portrayal of Omar was his favorite character on “The Wire,” (2002-2008) adding, “That guy is unbelievable,” in reference to Williams’ character.
He shared a Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble with the cast of the HBO Prohibition-era mob drama “Boardwalk Empire,” where he portrayed mobster Albert “Chalky.”
Williams most recently appeared in the series “F Is for Family” and HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
Mr. Williams is on record about his past struggles with drug addiction and during an interview in 2015, we spoke about the challenges of recovery.
While the media speculates his cause of death, I simply don’t care why he’s gone. What pains me is that Michael K. Williams has left this earth, and I feel a certain way about it. I mean — I feel this loss, and I am not the only one.
Hollywood has responded via social media. Academy Award winning actress, Lupita Nyongo remembered being drawn to Williams because of his “kind eyes,” and Riz Ahmed thanked him for “being a rare talent, unique soul, so generous, humble, badass, and so unapologetically yourself.”
Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
by Harry Scott-Holland
Williams is nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Montrose Freeman in HBO’s “Lovecraft County.”
The Emmy Awards 2021 are live, Sunday, September 19 with host Cedric The Entertainer. https://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/2021/outstanding-host-for-a-reality-or-reality-competition-program