Shockwaves reverberated throughout the acting community on Monday with word that Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Lovecraft Country) was found dead in the living room of his Kent Avenue penthouse apartment in Brooklyn earlier today, at the age of 54. The New York Post reports from law enforcement sources that "drug paraphernalia was found in the apartment, suggesting a possible overdose" though nothing official has been released as of this writing. A representative from the family issued the following statement to Deadline Hollywood: "It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this insurmountable loss."
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1966 to a Bahamian mother from Nassau and Booker T. Williams, an American, from Greeleyville, South Carolina, Williams' career would be highlighted by a number of roles that made undeniable impacts on the television and pop culture landscapes. First, there was the role that many believe catapulted the actor into the mainstream spotlight, that of Omar Little on David Simon and HBO's The Wire. From there, his turn as Albert "Chalky" White on Terence Winter and HBO's Steve Buscemi-starring Boardwalk Empire. And recently, he returned to HBO one more time for the role of Montrose Freeman in Misha Green and the cable giant's series adaptation of Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country.
Kicking off the television side of his career in a big way in the 1997 Law & Order episode "Shadow", Williams would portray or voice characters in a diverse line-up of shows. Those include The Sopranos, Third Watch, Law & Order: Special Victims, Alias, Boston Legal, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: NY, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Community, Walk This Way, The Spoils Before Dying, Hap and Leonard, The Night Of, F Is for Family, and When They See Us. The actor would receive Primetime Emmy Award recognition with three nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie that included Bessie (2015), The Night Of (2016), and When They See Us (2019). "My dream role is to portray someone like James Baldwin. I've always been a fan of his writing, and I feel like he's one of our unsung heroes. He's been pretty much forgotten, and I think he needs to be recognized," Williams responded when asked about his dream role. "He had to go all the way to Europe to find recognition and acceptance, and I'd just like to bring him to the forefront."