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Michael K. Williams
[[File:The Wire Omar.jpg|220px|alt=]]
Born Michael Kenneth Williams
November 22, 1966 (1966-11-22) (age 43)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1995–present
Official website

Michael Kenneth Williams (born November 22, 1966) is an American actor. He has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Omar Little on The Wire.[1][2][3]


Life and career

Childhood and early career

Williams was born November 22, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York. After getting in some trouble as a youth he enrolled at the National Black Theatre in New York City. He later got a job at a pharmaceutical company but left after he felt the job was not cut out for his destiny. Inspired by Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, he left school and quit his job against the wishes of his family to pursue a career as a dancer. During a year in which he was intermittently homeless, Williams "pounded the pavement," visiting record labels and dance studios looking for work. He eventually got a job as a background dancer on a music tour, which led to more work appearing as a dancer in videos and on tours, as well as some modeling work.[4]

Williams is well known for his large facial scar. Williams got the scar after he and his friends were involved in a confrontation with another group in Brooklyn on his 25th birthday. His assailants sliced him with razor blades. He eventually embraced the scar, citing Seal’s marred face as an inspiration. His scar became his signature and earned him photo shoots with noted photographers like David Lachapelle.

The Wire

Williams is best known for his portrayal of Omar Little in The Wire, which began filming in 2002. Williams received the part after only a single audition.[5] Williams was initially told that the character was slated to appear in just seven episodes of the first season and feared that the character would be killed before the end of the season.[5] However, creator David Simon stated that they always planned to keep the character as part of the continuing ensemble should the show be renewed beyond the first season.[6] Williams has stated that he pursued the role because he was intrigued by the character's contradictory nature.[5] For his portrayal of Omar, Williams was named by USA Today as one of ten reasons they still love television. The character was praised for his uniqueness in the stale landscape of TV crime dramas and for the wit and humor that Williams brings to the portrayal.[1] Omar has been named as one of the first season's richest characters, not unlike the Robin Hood of Baltimore's west side projects, although his contradictory nature was questioned as a little too strange.[2] The Baltimore City Paper named the character one of their top ten reasons not to cancel the show and called him "arguably the show’s single greatest achievement."[3]

Williams has stated that he feels that the character is well liked because of his honesty, lack of materialism, individuality and his adherence to his strict code.[5] He feels that the role has been a breakthrough in terms of bringing attention to him and getting further roles.[7] Williams has had both positive and negative reactions to the character's homosexuality and feels that he is successful in challenging attitudes and provoking discussion with the role.[7] In 2007 he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Omar. It was during this time that he also discovered Felicia Pearson (Snoop) in a bar.[8]

Other work

Williams had a recurring role on J. J. Abrams' Alias. He also had a recurring role on Abrams' produced Six Degrees.[7] He has also made brief appearances on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Boston Legal, The Sopranos, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Human Giant and Third Watch. He appeared in The Kill Point as recurring guest star Q, a police sniper alongside The Wire co-stars J.D. Williams, Michael Hyatt and Leo Fitzpatrick. He auditioned for the starring role of Mr. Cat but was forced to take a smaller role due to scheduling conflicts; the part of Mr. Cat went to J.D. Williams instead.[9]

Williams played detective Devin Amronklin in the 2007 film Gone, Baby, Gone. The film is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, who has written for The Wire, and was adapted and directed by Ben Affleck. Amronklin is a recurring character in Lehane's Kenzie-Genarro series of books. Williams says that he enjoyed working with Affleck and characterised him as a passionate and hands on director.[7] The film also featured his co-star from The Wire, Amy Ryan.

He played Teddy, the former boyfriend of Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington) in the Chris Rock film I Think I Love My Wife.

He played Curtis Craig in the 2004 film "Doing Hard Time". Craig is a man from Detroit who accidentally shoots a young boy during a shootout. He's sentenced to five years in prison, where he encounters the father of the slain young boy who seeks revenge for the death of his son.

He played James, a policeman, in singer R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet". He also appeared in The Game's "Dreams" music video, Tony Yayo's "It's a Stick Up" music video and Cam'ron's movie Killa Season, as well as Trick Daddy's video "Tuck Your Ice In", Sheek Louch's "Good Love", and Young Jeezy's "Bury me a G" alongside with The Wire co-star Hassan Johnson.

Williams had a very brief cameo in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk. The scene (in which Williams has no lines) shows his reaction to his car being destroyed during the fight sequence at the end of the film. The scene is at 1:25:00.

Williams played the role of The Thief in the 2009 film The Road, an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.[10]

Williams also starred in the movie "A Day in the Life", which was directed, produced and stars rapper, Sticky Fingaz. The entire movie is a musical with every line being delivered by rap.





  1. ^ a b Robert Bianco (2004). "10 Reasons we still love TV". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-07-21. 
  2. ^ a b Chris Barsanti (2004). "The Wire - The Complete First Season". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  3. ^ a b Brent McCabe and Van Smith (2005). "Down to the wire: Top 10 reasons not to cancel the wire.". Baltimore city paper.. Retrieved 2006-07-21. 
  4. ^ Interview on Fresh Air, January 22, 2008. Williams began to work (in these videos) with some of the biggest names in the business such as Madonna and Crystal Waters.[1]
  5. ^ a b c d Joel Murphy (2005). "One on one with... Michael K. Williams". Hobo Trashcan. Retrieved 2006-07-21. 
  6. ^ Alan Sepinwall (2008). "The Wire: David Simon Q & A". What's Alan Watching?. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  7. ^ a b c d Michael Ricci. "The Wire's Michael K. Williams on Playing Gay". After Elton. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  8. ^ "2007 Image Award nominees and winners". Hollywood Reporter. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-05. 
  9. ^ Alan Sepinwall (2007). ""'The Kill Point' proves formulas can pay off"". New Jersey Star Ledger. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  10. ^ Charles McGrath (2008). ""'At the End of the World, Honing the Father-Son Dynamic"". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 

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