Michael K. Williams with Amsterdam News managing editor Kristin Fayne-Mulroy (308268)

Sadly, it has been reported that the beloved actor, Michael K. Williams––best known for his portrayal as Omar Little in the hit television series “The Wire”––has died at 54 years old. People all over the world are grieving for this loss as Williams was a respected actor and activist who gave his time and voice to many charitable organizations.

His death was confirmed by his representative, Marianna Shafran, in a statement. The New York City police have revealed that Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn, New York penthouse apartment by his family members. They also reported that his death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose as the medical examiner works to find the true cause of death.

Williams is noted as one of the most popular characters on the HBO crime drama, “The Wire” which aired between 2002 and 2008. The New York Times writes, “As a swaggering lone wolf in a story largely defined by continuing battles between the police and various crime bosses and crews, Omar was one of prime-time’s preeminent antiheroes in a TV era defined by them. He was also gay and openly so in the homophobic, coldblooded world of murder and drugs, a groundbreaking portrayal of Black masculinity on television.” Williams tells the Times, “Omar definitely helped soften the blow of homophobia in my community and it opened up a dialogue, definitely.”

He has also been praised for his performance as Chalky White in “Boardwalk Empire” and his most recent television role was for his Emmy-nominated performance in “Lovecraft Country,” which is his fifth Emmy nomination. He also had a small role in “The Sopranos” and in Martin Scorsese’s 1999 film “Bringing Out the Dead,” as a drug dealer. Williams has expressed that after being slashed in the face with a razor in a fight when he was 25-years-old, he had to give up a successful career as a backup dancer, where he worked with Madonna, Crystal Waters, and other stars. The scars caused him to obtain many roles as a criminal, including a role as Tupac Shakur’s brother in the film “Bullet.”

The actor should also be recognized as an important contributor to the journalistic world as he investigated mass incarceration of the six-season documentary series, “Raised in the System” for VICE television. The show explores the depths of the school-to-prison pipeline focusing on the juvenile justice system. Williams shows empathy, bravery and humility while offering stories and the intricacies of young people’s lives as they traverse the racist and dehumanizing world of youth incarceration. His work was deeply important to the Black community and in raising the consciousness of people of all creeds and backgrounds all over the world.

He was also the creator of Making Kids Win (MKW), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which, according to the organization’s website (www.makingkidswin.com), “seeks, above all else, to provide the community’s underserved young men and women with education and opportunities that impedes and impacts their risk in gun violence gun actives… MKW is currently implementing two programs, Future to reduce gun violence, the related deaths and incarceration of community youth and City Arts Partnership to engage youth in the arts and excel in school.”

Williams has been open about struggling with drug addiction, particularly during his role on “The Wire.” It is an unfortunate fight that Williams, now at rest, no longer has to battle. Hollywood and countless fans are mourning this incredible loss.

He is survived by his mother, Paula Williams, his son Elijah Anderson, his brother Paul Carey, and nephews Dominic Dupont, Arvance Williams and Booker T. Williams.