Emmy award nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams has passed away at the age of 54. Williams, was found by his nephew this morning in his penthouse apartment located in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, New York. There was no forced entry or any signs of missing property, however investigators did find drug paraphernalia near his body. Williams has been open in the past about his struggles with drug abuse.
Williams, who starred in several HBO productions – garnered widespread acclaim and fame for his portrayal of Omar Little on The Wire. Williams’ character Omar was a highly intelligent homosexual who instilled fear in the streets of Baltimore – all while living his authentic life, unapologetically.
Williams was born in Brooklyn and grew up in housing projects in the East Flatbush area of Brooklyn. He is of African American and Caribbean ancestry. After getting into trouble in and out of school, he was enrolled into the National Black Theatre (located in Harlem). Inspired by Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, Williams pursued a career as a background dancer. He found some success performing with chart topping artists like singer Ginuwine, George Michael and Madonna. But it was him being discovered by Tupac Shakur that lead to his first acting role in the 1996 film Bullet.
my favorite interview with michael k. williams was on latifah's show (they've been friends since they were 17) and he discussed how janet jackson's "rhythm nation" video made him get into showbiz, then latifah pulled a clip from his days as a backup dancer pic.twitter.com/fwvmJaJcSQ
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) September 6, 2021
Throughout his acting career, Williams maintained a steady job and became involved with activism and philanthropy. He has starred opposite Queen Latifah in HBO’s biopic film Bessie and had a number of supporting roles, most notably in Boardwalk Empire, Lovecraft Country and Netflix’s When They See Us (starring alongside Niecy Nash). Williams also portrayed Ken Jones in When We Rise, a gay veteran living with HIV.
this brother was special. this hurts for real. rest in power Michael K Williams. pic.twitter.com/Q2c5m9wmwa
— lawrence agyei (@lawagyei) September 6, 2021
Friends, family and his industry peers have been expressing their condolences and sorrow since the story broke on Williams’ passing.
Williams is survived by his son, Elijah. Rest peacefully Michael K. Williams.