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In Memory of Michael K. Williams, an attorney for Black Fictions



In memory of Michael K. Williams, a Black Fictions attorney

Why do I still think about Michael K. Williams’ appearance in Julien Temple’s forgotten film “Bullet” after his death? It should not matter. Tupac Shakur is the tank, the glamorous drug dealer that pays his bills in the privacy of a limousine. Tank solves two white boys’ puzzles about a threat to their neighborhood. Williams is Tank’s brother, High Top, and Mindless Guardian. He’s barely allowed in until he is. Williams doesn’t burst in. Williams lives in the shadows of the composition, exuding an understated threat until it becomes tangible. When he shouts “Get out!!” as he pushes the Vehicle out of his grasp, the power dynamic of American gangsters is reversed and it’s the white guy who finds his neck behind the neck.

It was 1996, when Williams turned 29 years old. This was years before Omar Little was. He was completely unknown at the time. Unless you were a child of the club or a manager of a house, then you might have known him as Mike, the sweet Brooklyn boy with the smiley face and wrinkled forehead that was a regular in the dance floor. Williams once claimed that he was a dancer who was first introduced to acting by Janet Jackson’s video “Rhythm Nation”. Williams dropped out of school to dance and spent a year homeless sleeping in trains and clubs, while trying to find concerts. “I would literally be running up and down Broadway, running to record labels to discover who the new artist was – you need new dancers man! NPR was informed by him. He was a background dancer for George Michael and Madonna, and he choreographed for certified divas. Williams’ early exposure to drag, and other expressions that allow for freedom, was what helped him to connect with his characters. It almost seemed like he could spiritually communicate with them. When Williams was in “Lovecraft Country”His Montrose Freeman, afflicted by his sexuality closes his eyes and submits to the music. The queens then lift him off the floor. Was this not a form of conversion? In its too limited uvre, there was an act of self-abandonment. Williams had both the romantic and the thinker. Last Monday, Williams’s tragic death from a possible overdose at 54 years old ended one of the most exciting careers in television history.

The subject of physiognomy is a must. Williams was just twenty-five when his face was severed from the hairline to the cheek in a bar fight. He should have had the envy of a Roman bust for his scar, but in the entertainment world, the combination of his scar and his dark skin were treated like makeup. He wasn’t required to dance anymore by music video directors. Instead, he was offered jobs that required him. “roll these dice”Oder “fight this fight,”He said so. “Bullet” was his debut film role. He got it after Tupac saw a Polaroid and asked for it to be cast. Omar Little was cast in the pivotal role of Omar on “The Wire” in 2002. At the time, the description of Omar Little would have seemed absurd: A loner who hunts and outsmarts police, covers Baltimore’s alleyways with a sawed off handgun and his pink-lipped companion in the house of his large trenchcoat. He was introduced as a legend by his ability to whistle “The Farmer In the Dell” while he walks down the street. “Omar is Coming,” warns the dope boys, as he disperses. Williams was told by his agent that his character would not last beyond a season. He did however stabilize the balance of the crime opera and sexualized it, which he stayed for four more.

Although Ed Burns and David Simon were both excellent actors, it was Williams who created Omar. He spent all of his time in Baltimore as a rookie actor. He improvised, enriching the story that he was told. The first kiss between Omar (and his friend) in season 1 was initiated by Williams without any script. As Omar grew, he became a Bogart character. He was the lawless steward for a one-man morality code. The game was all about the game. Omar was not the one. Omar was loved by the audience for his individuality. However, regardless of whether he was straight or gay, they wanted him to be punished or saved. Williams-as Omar was my first love object in the so-called prestige era of television.

Williams’s contact with Omar was rare and deeply disturbing. Williams lost his identity and anchorage when Omar was shot to death in 2008 at the end of “The Wire.” Fans would call him his character’s name on the block, which was a sign that they were seeking a ghost. It is important to remember that the actor was “more than”Omar is to recognize in the same breath Omar was a master. Williams played more roles than one. His “Boardwalk Empire”, the demented smuggler Chalky white, is a favorite of many. Some, like myself, are fond of Freddy’s role as Riz Ahmed’s frightened Naz Khan mentor in The Night Of. Williams is known for his scenes theft but was a good partner. He was reluctant to play against Ahmed and Wendell Pierce, Steve Buscemi or Jeffrey Wright, Queen Latifah, and other players.

Is it acceptable to say that Williams was an actor who approached the lines cautiously and could perform the work? It’s also possible that Williams didn’t always want safety. His death was not caused by art. It is with deep admiration that Williams was unable to produce the kind of cold performance that professional actors can. Williams, a recovering addict, was open about his experiences in Omar and Montrose. Williams was open about his afterlife, as it had taken root in him.

Williams was attracted to works with heightened realism. However, no one would describe Williams’ performances as being merely realistic, even the rougher ones. His homage to DMX during the BET Awards this year is something I haven’t been able to describe other than a reincarnation. Williams was an actor who was intimidated by the task in hand. He was a shock absorber. The membrane was thin. He saw you the same way as you did and allowed you to touch him. He wasn’t self-conscious, but he did take his calling seriously. We loved his unique embrace of otherness. There was something Brando about his visions of a strange male existence. His shameless feelings for the hood were appreciated by black fans. He shared not only his personal experiences but also those of people he knew from growing up in Vanderveer Estates, now Flatbush Gardens, Flatbush, Brooklyn. “Ask De Niro: Is he tired of being typed all the mob film he’s made?” He asked himself the question aloud once. Williams should be better known for being a defender and promoter of the diversity in black fiction.

There are some moments in his filmography which help us get to know him better. His personality is generous and sensitive. Marshall Kane talks about Community. In the shitty remake, “Superfly”, the martial arts guru and guru. The gay conservative homophobe in “Hap and Leonard”. Music videos. His Instagram account is frequently updated. But Williams is gone, it’s mad. There is a vacuum. He was also in a void. He did what was asked of him. He was an actor with the right qualities. We should have seen more from him. He gave more than enough.

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