Hollywood Pays Tribute to Michael K. Williams

Emmy-nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams passed away at the age of 54 in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. His representative confirmed the news with a statement yesterday, saying that his family is “grieving this insurmountable loss.”

Throughout his prolific career, Williams was a mainstay on HBO, with notable roles in Boardwalk Empire, Bessie, and The Night Of. He’s best known for portraying stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire, one of TV’s premier antiheroes and a groundbreaking portrayal of Black masculinity as an openly gay man in a homophobic industry. Most recently, he starred in Lovecraft Country, which snagged him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Williams came up in street dancing, becoming a backup dancer for artists including George Michael, Ginuwine, and Madonna. He also choreographed the music video for house singer Crystal Waters’s 1994 single “100% Pure Love.” He channeled his childhood experiences in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, into his performance of Omar Little, and he was a longtime advocate for criminal justice reform, in both the United States and his mother’s native, the Bahamas.

Williams’s costars throughout his career have taken to social media to express their grief following the actor’s death. Many of his fans, both famous and non, have also shared their memories of his “talent,” “kindness,” and “courage.” Below are some Hollywood tributes to the legend.

Ava DuVernay

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The When They See Us director posted several on-set pictures of the late actor, who portrayed the father of one of the wrongfully convicted Central Park Five on the acclaimed miniseries. In the caption, she shared her memories of Williams on set.

“I remember the times you’d come on set even when you weren’t on the call sheet. Just to share a hug. To cheer us on. Strolling in like the King that you were. For just a flash to give some love – then gone. I remember nights out in NYC that summer and how you were so loved by the folks in your city,” she wrote.

She concluded the post, “Maya Angelou once said, your legacy lives on in every life you touch. You, brother, touched many. Through your personal interactions big and small, through your community activism, through your struggles, through your triumphs, through your glorious work. You moved many. You moved me. What you doubted in life, be certain of now, dear brother. Be certain. You were a flash of love – now gone. But never forgotten.”

Jharrel Jerome

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Williams’s When They See Us costar wrote, “You were kind. You were gentle and soft spoken. You were funny. You were smooth. You were as real as they came. You inspired me. You inspired all of us. You were the type of artist that I thought could live forever. But I’m still not wrong, because you WILL live forever. You are a timeless actor Michael. We love you, we will miss you. Rest In Peace. Omar’s still comin 🖤.”

Niecy Nash

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Niecy Nash shared a series of pictures and videos from When They See Us promotions, including a video of herself, Williams, and Jerome dancing during a photo shoot, which she called “[her] fav of us.”

The Claws actor wrote, “You we’re a beautiful soul, a kind spirit & a good time… a talent beyond measure. Thank you for the many times we traded energy and you made me feel like family. You left us too soon… Praying for your loved ones.”

She later posted a video of Williams dancing in a park in his native Brooklyn, which went viral last October.

A post shared by Niecy Nash (@niecynash1)

David Simon

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