A family member discovered Michael K. Williams’ lifeless body in his Brooklyn apartment Monday, around 2 p.m. Williams, 54, is best known for his role as Omar Little in HBO’s popular series, “The Wire.”
“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 rep Marianna Shafran told the media.
Reportedly, drug paraphernalia was found near his body, leading police to say they’ll pursue the case as a possible drug overdose and that the city’s medical examiner will determine the official cause.
“Addiction doesn’t go away,” Williams said during a 2017 interview. “It’s an everyday struggle for me, but I’m fighting. A lot of people think that when a person puts down the drugs or alcohol that all the problems go away. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Drugs and alcohol are not the problem, they’re merely symptoms of the problem.”
His mother emigrated from the Bahamas to East Flatbush, Brooklyn’s Vanderveer Estates, currently called Flatbush Gardens. He was born in Brooklyn Nov. 22, 1966.
Tupac Shakur personally selected him to portray his character’s brother in the film “Bullet” (1996). He’d go on to appear in HBO’s series “Boardwalk Empire” and “Lovecraft Country,” and in the films “12 Years a Slave” and “Assassin’s Creed,” as well as Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead” (1999). He also landed a role in a “Sopranos” episode.
Additionally, he appeared in “12 Years a Slave” and “The Road,” and had recently been cast in a George Foreman biopic as Foreman’s trainer, Doc Broadus, and acted in the series “F Is for Family.”
Williams amassed several accolades, including five Emmy nominations. The first was in 2015 for his role in “Bessie,” and another followed two years later for his part in “The Night Of.” He also won a SAG Award for best ensemble with the cast of “Boardwalk Empire.”
“The Wire” afforded Williams the opportunity to showcase his diverse acting talents, spring-boarding him to appearances on acclaimed series such as “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Night Of” and “When We Rise.” He’s been nominated five times for Emmy Awards, most recently for later this month in the upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards as outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his portrayal of Montrose Freeman on HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
After hearing Barack Obama mention, at a 2008 presidential campaign forum, that “The Wire” was the best show television offers, and specifically mention his character’s name, he was ecstatic.
“Hearing my name come out of his mouth woke me up,” Williams explained in 2017. “I realized that my work could actually make a difference.”
Despite Williams’ on-screen success, he stayed socially conscious, supporting causes such as criminal justice and prison reform. He is the co-founder of We Build the Block, an organization whose mission is to replace over-policing with community-led public safety solutions in New York City.
He played the father of Antron McCray in Ava DuVernay’s mini-series “When They See Us,” about the Central Park 5 case.
“You, brother, touched many,” DuVernay posted on Instagram. “Through your personal interactions big and small, through your community activism, through your struggles, through your triumphs, through your glorious work; you moved many, you moved me.”
David Simon, writer and director for “The Wire,” Tweeted that he was “too gutted” to say more about “a fine man and a rare talent” who “always deserved the best words.”
Nephew Arvance Williams said, “Mike was the kind of person, he would fall and get back up, he was always trying to do better.”
A win on Sept. 19 for his role in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” would earn Williams his first Emmy Award. He’s survived by his mother, Paula Williams, brother Paul Carey, and three nephews.