Michael K. Williams Biography

Michael Kenneth Williams, a highly recognized and respected American actor and dancer, made a significant impact in the television world. Best known for his iconic roles as Omar Little in The Wire and Albert ‘Chalky’ White in Boardwalk Empire, Williams captivated audiences with his exceptional talent. His journey in the entertainment industry began when he was discovered by the late rapper Tupac Shakur, who introduced him to mainstream cinema. From there, Williams went on to play major roles in various television series and also made appearances in notable films. His portrayal of Omar Little gained even more acclaim when former President Barack Obama expressed his admiration for The Wire and highlighted Williams’ character. Alongside his acting career, Williams also found success as a choreographer and background dancer. His remarkable contributions earned him five Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Tragically, Michael K. Williams was found dead in his New York apartment on September 6, 2021, leaving behind a legacy that will forever be remembered.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Michael Kenneth Williams
  • Died At Age: 54
  • Family: children: Elijah Williams
  • Born Country: United States
  • Actors
  • American Men
  • Height: 5’10” (178 cm), 5’10” Males
  • Died on: September 6, 2021
  • Place of death: Williamsburg, New York, United States
  • Ancestry: Sierra Leonean American, Bahamian American
  • Notable Alumni: Borough Of Manhattan Community College
  • Cause of Death: Acute Combined Drug Intoxication
  • City: Brooklyn, New York City
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers
  • More Facts
  • Education: Borough Of Manhattan Community College

Childhood & Early Life

Michael Kenneth Williams was born on November 22, 1966, in the East Flatbush area of New York City. His father was African-American from South Carolina, and his mother was from Nassau. He attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School and later enrolled at the National Black Theatre in New York City. During his adolescence, he was molested, which had a profound emotional impact on him and led to a troubled teenage life. He struggled with low self-esteem and often sought solace in the church. Growing up in a rough and violent neighborhood, Williams initially fell into bad company but found his passion for the performing arts, which changed his life.


Inspired by Janet Jackson’s song “Rhythm Nation 1814,” Williams left his pharmaceutical job and dropped out of school to pursue a career as a dancer. He faced homelessness for a period of time before being selected as a background dancer for artists like George Michael, Madonna, and Kym Sim. On his 25th birthday in 1991, he was involved in a bar fight where he was slashed in the face with a razor blade, leaving a scar that would later contribute to his casting as a thug in movies and videos. Williams continued to work as a dancer and also took on modeling jobs. In 1995, he played a minor role in the film “Mugshot” and received recognition for his skills.

His first major acting role came in 1996 when he was cast as High Top in the film “Bullet” by rapper Tupac Shakur. From 1997 to 2001, he made guest appearances in various movies and television series. In 2002, Williams auditioned for a role at HBO and was cast as Omar Little, a street thug, in the critically acclaimed series “The Wire.” This role brought him widespread recognition and critical acclaim. He went on to appear as Chalky White in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” from 2010 to 2014, earning him further acclaim and award nominations. Williams has also appeared in numerous other series, movies, and miniseries throughout his career.

Major Works

Throughout his career, Michael K. Williams has appeared in iconic shows and series such as “Law & Order,” “CSI,” “The Sopranos,” and “Alias.” His portrayal of strong and ruthless characters with a hint of gentleness and compassion has been widely appreciated. His role as Omar Little in HBO’s “The Wire” earned him praise from former President Barack Obama, who called the character fascinating and the toughest guy on the show. Williams is also known for his activism and philanthropy, serving as the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for the Campaign for Smart Justice and establishing the charitable organization “Making Kids Win.”

Awards & Achievements

Williams has received numerous award nominations throughout his career. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Omar Little in “The Wire” in 2007. He was nominated for the Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast for “Life During Wartime” in 2009. In 2011, he and the cast of “Boardwalk Empire” won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. He has also received nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award, Black Reel Award, Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award, and Satellite Award for his various roles.

Personal Life and Death

Michael K. Williams was rumored to be gay until the birth of his son, Elijah Williams, from one of his girlfriends. He remained private about his personal life. Tragically, Williams passed away on September 6, 2021, at the age of 54. He was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse.


Edward Norton, a fan of Williams’ character Omar Little in “The Wire,” insisted on writing a cameo for him in his movie “The Incredible Hulk.”

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