Michael K. Williams, the actor best known for his role as Omar Little on The Wire, has died, the New York Post reports. He was found dead today (September 6) in his Brooklyn apartment, the New York Police Department told Variety. Williams was 54 years old.

Michael Kenneth Williams was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1966. One of his first acting roles came as High Top in the 1996 movie Bullet. Williams has said that the film’s co-star Tupac Shakur saw a photo of him and suggested the casting. In 2002, Williams debuted as Omar Little in the first season of The Wire, a role he’d reprise through the show’s fifth and final season. In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama called The Wire his favorite TV show and said that Omar was his favorite character. “That’s not an endorsement,” Obama said. “He’s not my favorite person, but he’s a fascinating character.”

In addition to The Wire, Williams had notable roles in Boardwalk Empire, 12 Years a Slave, The Gambler, and more. Williams also portrayed Sergeant James in several chapters of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. In 2017, Williams said he was going to star in a Miles Davis biopic but few details and updates have been shared in the ensuing years.

This past June, Williams participated in a tribute to DMX at the 2021 BET Awards, performing alongside Swizz Beatz, Griselda, his Wire co-star Method Man, and others. The following month, Williams was nominated for the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Montrose Freeman on Lovecraft Country. The Emmy will be given out later this month.

“Thanks for all you gave to encourage, enlighten, and entertain people you didn’t even know,” Chance the Rapper tweeted after learning of Michael K. Williams’ death.

Saul Williams wrote in Williams’ memory: “For years Wikipedia listed Michael K. Williams as my brother. Neither one of us chose to correct it, instead we took it at its word. ‘We’re brothers, yo.’ He shared poems with me. We broke bread & kicked it whenever we could. A deep & sincere connection. A beautiful spirit. 💔💔”


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