A native of Brooklyn, NY, actor Michael Kenneth Williams fell into a typecast with repeated portrayals of hoods, toughs, and career criminals from project to project. Williams entered acting courtesy of professional dancing, which he began at the age of 22; in that arena, his unique and individualistic moves caught the attention of producers and landed him in a string of music videos. Williams subsequently decided to pursue classical training as an actor, which he received via participation in the National Black Theater Company and New York's La' MaMA Theatre Company, though his breakthrough arrived at the hands of the late gangster rapper Tupac Shakur, who discovered Williams and cast him as his own little brother in the Julien Temple-directed urban crime drama Bullet (1995). Work for Martin Scorsese followed, with a minor role in the grueling psychodrama Bringing Out the Dead (1999), though Williams scored much broader acclaim and exposure via participation in HBO's popular crime drama series The Wire, where he played stick-up man Omar Little for multiple seasons. Williams then moved back into features with a supporting turn as Devin in actor-turned-director Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone (2007), then starred opposite Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron in director John Hillcoat's post-apocalyptic thriller The Road (2008).
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Started dancing professionally at the age of 22; appeared in more than 50 music videos.
- Got his facial scar in a bar fight on his 25th birthday.
- Worked for Pfizer pharmaceuticals for a time.
- Made his feature-film debut in 1996's Bullet, after being discovered by Tupac Shakur.
- Was nominated for the NAACP Image Award twice for his portrayal of Omar Little on HBO's The Wire.