Actor Michael Kenneth Williams, best known for his portrayal of Omar Little on HBO’s The Wire, has passed away. According to the New York City Police Department, Williams was found dead at approximately 2 PM today. The medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death, but the investigation is a possible drug overdose.
Williams was born on November 22, 1966, and grew up in Brooklyn. He got his start in acting when he caught the eye of Tupac Shakur, and he got cast in the role of Tupac’s character’s brother in the film, Bullet. And while he did later appear in Martin Scorsese’s Bring Out the Dead and an episode of The Sopranos, he was still a struggling actor, and it wasn’t until The Wire that he truly arrived.
His portrayal of gay street-level stick-up artist, Omar Little, was groundbreaking in television. He told The New York Times in 2019, “Omar definitely helped soften the blow of homophobia in my community, and it opened up a dialogue, definitely.”
In addition to the acclaim he received for his role on that show, the praise for his work in other projects, including HBO’s The Night Of and Lovecraft Country, even garnered him Emmy nominations. And while not in front of the camera, Williams was an advocate for social justice reform.
West Coast Styles extends our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and associates of Mr. Michael K. Williams. May he rest in peace.