By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Sept. 7, 2021: A Caribbean roots star best known for his role as Omar Little on HBO’s “The Wire,” has passed away at the age of 54.
Michael K. Williams, who was born in Brooklyn, NY but whose roots extended to the Bahamas through his Nassau-born mother, was found dead in his New York City apartment Monday afternoon, reports indicate.
“It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss,” his long-time rep Marianna Shafran of Shafran PR told The Hollywood Reporter.
Investigators reportedly found drug paraphernalia near his body and an investigation into his death is ongoing.
Williams also starred as Albert “Chalky” White on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and was acclaimed for his role as Jack Gee, husband of Bessie Smith, in the HBO telefilm biopic Bessie. He acted in supporting roles in a number of films and television series, including The Road, Inherent Vice, The Night Of, Gone Baby Gone, 12 Years a Slave, When We Rise, When They See Us, and Hap and Leonard.
Williams received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations: three for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, one for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (pending), and one for Outstanding Informational Series or Special.
Williams worked for Pfizer pharmaceuticals as a temp by was inspired by Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. He left school and quit his job, against the wishes of his family, to pursue a career as a dancer. During a year in which he was intermittently homeless, Williams visited record labels and dance studios looking for work. He got a job as a background dancer with singer Kym Sims, which led to more work appearing as a dancer in music videos and on tours with artists such as George Michael and Madonna, as well as some modelling work. He also choreographed Crystal Waters’ 1994 single “100% Pure Love.”
Williams had a large facial scar he received in a bar fight on Jamaica Avenue, New York City, on his 25th birthday, when he was slashed with a razor blade. The scar became his signature feature, and resulted in offers to perform as a thug in music videos, and modeling opportunities with noted photographers like David LaChapelle. One of his first acting roles was alongside Tupac Shakur as High Top, the brother and henchman to Shakur’s drug kingpin Tank, in the 1996 film Bullet. Shakur reportedly decided on Williams for the role after spotting a polaroid photograph of him in a production studio.