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Michael K. Williams (1966–2021), actor who starred in “The Wire”

by Linnea Crowther

Michael K. Williams was an actor best known for his portrayal of stickup man Omar Little in the HBO drama “The Wire.”

Acting career

Williams began his career as a dancer, appearing in music videos and touring with musicians including George Michael and Madonna. A bar fight on his 25th birthday left Williams with a prominent scar on his face, a distinction that made him perfect for roles playing criminals and lowlifes. His breakout role was on “The Wire,” playing the complex antihero Omar. He was a gay robber who targeted drug dealers. Williams went on to star in “Boardwalk Empire” as Albert “Chalky” White and in “Lovecraft Country” as Montrose Freeman. His other notable roles included “Alias” and “Community,” and he was Emmy-nominated for his performances in “Bessie,” “The Night Of,” “When They See Us,” and “Lovecraft Country.” Williams also appeared in movies including “Bullet,” “I Think I Love My Wife,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Road,” and “The Gambler.”

Notable quote

“You know, as people of color in Hollywood, entertainment, a lot of times we don’t pay attention to the fact that we sell trauma. Some of our most wanting work is rooted—most of the time—in pain and trauma.” —from a 2020 interview for Men’s Health


Tributes to Michael K. Williams

Full obituary: The New York Times

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