RIP Michael K. Williams: Celebrating the Actor Who Played Omar Little on ‘The Wire’


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Character actor Michael K. Williams, a person known for his work on prestige television dramas, passed away on Monday, September 6, 2021, at the age of 54. He was found dead by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse. The medical examiner is currently investigating the cause of his death as a possible drug overdose. (It’s something he struggled with and talked openly about over the course of his career.)

If you’ve ever watched the acclaimed show The Wire, you are undoubtedly familiar with the work of Williams. He played Omar Little, a whistling man who robbed the drug dealers and is behind one of the most quotable lines of the entire show: “You come at the king, you best not miss.” Omar was also groundbreaking; he was an openly gay man but his sexuality wasn’t a central part of his character. This representation challenged notions of masculinity, particularly Black masculinity.

After The Wire, Williams created another memorable character in Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire. He also appeared in Lovecraft Country as well as the films 12 Years a Slave and The Road.

Williams was born in Brooklyn and first entered the entertainment industry as a dancer for the likes of George Michael, Missy Elliot, and Madonna. His first big acting break came thanks to rapper Tupac Shakur who saw a photo of Williams and picked him to play his brother in the 1996 film Bullet.

Williams' unexpected death has his colleagues and former co-stars mourning his loss with heartfelt tributes on social media. Wendell Pierce, the actor who played Detective William “Bunk” Moreland on The Wire expressed his grief in a tweet thread. “The depth of my love for this brother, can only be matched by the depth of my pain learning of his loss,” he wrote. “An immensely talented man with the ability to give voice to the human condition portraying the lives of those whose humanity is seldom elevated until he sings their truth.”

Actor Michael K. Williams died on Monday, September 6, 2021, at the age of 54.

His fans, former co-stars, and colleagues are mourning the loss on social media…


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…particularly those from The Wire, including show creator, David Simon.

h/t: [NPR]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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