Michael K. Williams was an American actor who was found dead in his New York apartment on Monday aged 54. He was famous for his role in the pioneering HBO series “The Wire” and played the character Omar Little.
Williams was found dead around at about 2 p.m., according to the New York Times, citing the New York City Police Department. The platform also reports that his death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose, and the city’s medical examiner will determine the cause.
Aside from ‘The Wife,’ Williams also featured in various TV series and movies such as “Boardwalk Empire,” “Law & Order” and “The Sopranos.” He was given his first movie role as High Top in the 1996 film “Bullet” after he was discovered by Tupac Shakur.
His 30-year career in the movie industry has seen Williams accumulate an estimated net worth of $5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
In movies, he is often portrayed as a thug-type character due to the large scar on his face. He got his large iconic scar during a bar fight in New York. According to the New York Post, he sustained the injury when he went out to get some air during a “popping party” at a bar in Queens.
“I saw that two of my other friends were being surrounded by some dudes who I didn’t know. And it looked like they were about to get jumped,” he recalled during a 2014 interview. According to him, he tried to flee with his friends but one man continued to follow him. The man later brought his razor from his mouth and slashed William’s face.
Although Williams survived the attack, the gash from the razor blade created a distinctive scar that ran down the center of his forehead, crossed the bridge of his nose, and continued across his right cheek before ending near his mouth, according to the New York Post.
The Post also noted that at the time, Williams was working as a dancer in music videos for stars including Madonna and George Michael. However, it was the iconic mark left on his face that got him noticed by movie directors.
“Things changed immediately after that. Directors didn’t want me just to dance in the videos anymore,” he said. “They wanted me to act out these thug roles, you know, like — ‘Mike, roll these — roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video.’ I was like, ‘All right.’”
Williams used his star power to advocate for criminal justice reform in the U.S. and the Bahamas. According to the New York Times, he was the A.C.L.U.’s ambassador for ending mass incarceration, appearing in a related ad campaign.
“Arresting people, or ruining people’s lives for a small, nonviolent charge, like marijuana, drug addiction or mental illness, is not the way to go.”
“Those are health issues, not criminal issues,” he told the New Yorker in 2014.
Williams was born on November 22, 1966. His parents separated when he was young and so he moved with his mother from the Bahamas to live in Brooklyn. His mother worked as a seamstress and later operated a daycare center out of the Vanderveer Estates.
The actor is survived by his mother, Paula Williams, his brother, Paul Carey, and his nephew, Dominic Dupont.