Michael K Williams has distinguished himself in Hollywood for mostly portraying the character of a thug, thanks to his facial scar. While it has become the feature that defines his identity as an actor, Williams has not always had the scar. As you would soon learn in detail, Williams sustained the scar as an adult and was already working in the entertainment industry when this happened.
The American actor is best known for playing the notorious stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire, a crime drama television series that aired on HBO from June 2002 to March 2008. He also portrayed a similar character named Chalky White in another HBO crime drama series, Broadwalk Empire. Disregarding these, many people have come to admire Michael for playing Jack Gee, the husband of the famous American blues singer, Bessie Smith, on the biopic television film, Bessie. He has also been seen in many popular big and small screen projects which have endeared him to movie lovers across the globe, many of whom wonder how he got his facial scar.
10. The Actor Got The Facial Scar in a Barroom Brawl on His 25th Birthday
If you’ve ever read anywhere that the actor has always had the scar, that’s not true. He wasn’t born with it. The scar was acquired from an injury he sustained in a fight. Michael K Williams has talked about how he got the slash-scar on his face several times and his story has been consistent. According to the actor, the injury that left him with the scar happened on his 25th birthday.
In an interview with NPR, the Boardwalk Empire actor related that he was cut on his face in a barroom brawl at a party in Queens. Williams narrated that two of his friends were about to get jumped by a group of fellows and he involved himself. Pissed about that, one of the bad guys positioned a razor between his middle and ring finger; then took a swiping blow down Michael’s face. It was the first hit of the fight, added the actor.
9. He Worked as a Dancer and Choreographer Before He Got The Scar
Michael K Willaims has been a part of the entertainment industry long before he became famous as an actor. From the late 80s to the early 90s, he made a living as a dancer and choreographer. This saw him feature in multiple music videos and tours. You will find him in music videos of popular bands and artists like MGMT, Marilyn Manson, Ghostface Killah, R. Kelly, Madonna, Jay-Z, and Beanie Sigel.
For many, having a scar would have marked the end of their career as an entertainer but for Willaims, it happened to be what he needed to take his career to the next level. Based on what the actor shared, he noticed that directors started wanting him to do more than dancing after he got the scar. They frequently assigned minor thug roles to him and it marked the beginning of his career as an actor.
8. Michael K Williams Got His First Major Acting Role Through 2Pac
Bullet is a 1996 crime drama film wherein Michael K Williams had his first major acting role. The movie directed by Julien Temple starred the late famous American rapper, Tupac Shakur, alongside other popular actors like Mickey Rourke, Adrien Brody, Donnie Wahlberg, and Ted Levine among others. The movie was released about a month after Tupac’s death. This must have been painful for Williams as it was the rapper that discovered him for the role he played thereof as High Top, one of the henchmen of Tupac’s character, Tank.
As the story goes, the rapper saw a picture of Michael in a production office where he had attended various auditions for music videos. Seeing the picture, Tupac expressed that Michael was thugged out to play his younger brother in Bullet and the rest became history.
7. He Has Never Been a Thug in Real Life
Given his looks, toughened by the scar on his face, and the various characters he has played in movies and TV shows, one would swear that the actor draws from real-life experiences in playing the gangster roles that have defined his career. As Michael has played most of these roles to perfection, it is not surprising that many have come to regard him as someone they wouldn’t want to have issues with in real life. The fact that he got his facial scar in a barroom fight has also sustained the belief that Michael is as well a thug in real life; this is not true.
In one of his many interviews, the actor expressed that the rough characters he has played aren’t a reflection of his person in real life. Stressing that he has never been a thug, and never liked being in a fight, the actor explained that he’s able to play characters like the ruthless businessman Chalky White in Broadwalk Empire because he understands violence. Michael buttressed that he faced tough times in life which left him feeling some part of him was dead. These life challenges he endured somehow helped him forge a connection between his real-life experiences and the dark characters he has portrayed.
So, it’s all about acting; Michael K Williams isn’t a thug in real life. However, the characters he has portrayed influenced him at some point.
6. Playing Omar Little Left Him With an Identity Crisis.
Michael K Williams had a pretty rough experience growing up, from being bullied to sexual molestation and what have you. In his words, he was “very soft [and] fragile” that people regarded him as a “cream puff”. But then, the perception changed when he sustained his facial scar as he was often mistaken for a gangster. All of these influenced how he saw himself and it culminated in a serious identity crisis after he started playing Omar Little on The Wire.
In the first season of the series, he became very popular and people began calling him Omar. Unknowingly, Williams began living like Omar in real life. He spent his money recklessly, took to smoking cannabis, and also got hooked on cocaine. The actor was soon broke and in so much trouble that he was evicted from where he lived. He moved in with his baby mother and had to wait for the third season of The Wire to earn again as his character wasn’t featured in the second season of the show.
Thankfully, he got to realize that he was using what he does for a living to define himself. This helped him to turn things around.
5. Meeting Barrack Obama Helped Him Get Back On Track
In one of the instances he talked about the identity and existential crisis he faced playing Omar Little on The Wire, Michael K Williams asserted that the characters that almost destroyed his life were the ones that mean the most to him. With the addiction and other issues that followed being Omar Little, anyone in Williams’ shoes might consider staying away from such roles. Michael suggested that he also considered this but was inspired by Barrack Obama to continue playing similar roles.
From what we gathered, The Wire had just ended and the actor had been on a drug spree for days when his mother dragged him to a rally organized for Barack Obama at the state capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. This was in 2008 when Obama was campaigning for president. The politician, who later became the 44th president of the United States, had earlier in his campaign proclaimed that The Wire was a fine show and named Omar as his favorite character from the series.
At the rally, Williams got to privately meet with Obama. Even though he was high on cocaine, their brief meeting made him realize the significance of playing characters like Omar, and that he could make a difference through his acting career. Among other things, it is a popular opinion that the role broke many stereotypes about gay people. Yeah, Omar Little isn’t only a notorious stick-up man who robs gangster drug dealers in his community, he is also openly gay and a regular churchgoer.
4. The Actor Doesn’t Seem To Be Gay In Real Life
Apart from Omar Little, Michael K Williams also played a gay character on When We Rise, a docudrama miniseries that revolves around the advocacy of LGBT rights in America. In the series, Williams played Ken Jones, an LGBT rights activist who passed in January 2021.
Because of these roles, and the fact that he supports marriage equality, it is no surprise that many have come to wonder if Williams is gay in real life. Also, the fact that the actor keeps his love life away from the limelight hasn’t helped matters. However, based on the information available, one can assert that the actor isn’t gay. While Williams has proclaimed several times that gay and lesbian couples deserve to be protected and not discriminated against, he has never stated he’s gay.
Reports have it that being sexually molested and called “Faggot Mike” as a boy left the actor confused about his sexuality when he was a young man. According to The New York Times, he frequented gay bars where he found a sense of belonging but didn’t identify as a gay man.
3. He Is a Family Man and a Committed Father
It is known that Williams has fathered at least three kids but almost nothing is known about the kids and who their mother/s is/are. Of late, it is believed that the actor is in a relationship with the American actress, Tasha Smith.
Back in May 2019, she shared a picture with the actor on Instagram and described him as the love of her life. Although a lot is yet to be learned about his private life, we can confirm that Micael K Williams is a committed father and a family man.
Commenting on how he pulled himself out of the identity crisis that had him hooked on cocaine, the actor told Time that he had to quit the reckless behavior for the sake of his kids and family.
2. When They See Us Earned Him His Third Nomination For a Primetime Emmy Award as an Actor
It would be outrageous for anyone to suggest that Michael K. Williams hasn’t had a successful career. Since he made his feature film debut in Bullet, he has been seen in many popular movies and TV shows, including 12 Years a Slave, Hap and Leonard, The Road, Gone Baby Gone, The Night Of, Inherent Vice, The Incredible Hulk, The Purge: Anarchy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and much more.
Several of these roles has earned him nominations for prestigious awards, some of which he has won. Recently, his role as Montrose Freeman on the horror drama series, Lovecraft Country, won him the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. He was also nominated alongside other co-stars of the series for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Earlier in 2019, playing Bobby McCray on the crime drama television miniseries, When They See Us, earned him his third nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award. It was for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, the same category he had twice been nominated for; these were for playing Freddy Knight on The Night Of and Jack Gee on Bessie. He also received multiple NAACP Image Awards nominations amongst others for playing Omar Little and Chalky White.
1. Michael K Williams is Also a Producer
For someone who began his career in the entertainment industry as a dancer, Williams has come a long way; not only as an actor but also as a producer. To the best of our knowledge, his first role as a producer was when he executed the production of the 2012 drama film, Snow on tha Bluff.
The actor is also the executive producer of at least six episodes of the TV series documentary, Black Market with Michael K. Williams. He also served in the same capacity for the “Raised in the System” episode of Vice, another TV series documentary. It earned him an Emmys nomination for Outstanding Informational Series Or Special.
Other projects he has been credited for as a producer include The Wire: The Musical, Shelter, Bro, Grace After Midnight Pain, and most recently, About The People.