Michael K. Williams even made advertising feel like art

On Monday, award-winning actor Michael Ok. Williams was discovered lifeless in his Brooklyn condo. The 54-year-old artist was finest identified for his roles in a few of HBO’s greatest hits, first as Omar Little in The Wire, then as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire. His different credit embody Lovecraft Nation, The Evening Of, Bessie, and When They See Us.

Williams grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and spoke typically in regards to the violence and poverty that surrounded him, and the way it formed him as an individual. His signature facial scar got here from being slashed with a razor on his twenty fifth birthday. As a dancer early in his profession, he carried out with Madonna and George Michael, and his first appearing function was within the 1996 Tupac Shakur movie Bullet.

Through the years, Williams starred in a handful of advertising campaigns, together with for Diddy’s Ciroc and Beats by Dre. However two items of brand name work specifically stand out as not solely compelling advertisements, but additionally poignant representations of Williams as a person and an artist. For these manufacturers, as in his TV and movie roles, Williams’ presence, gravitas, and efficiency elevates the work to a different degree.


The primary was in 2015 for 1800 Tequila, wherein Williams discusses his previous, upbringing, and the roles he chooses. “If I may carry some sort of understanding, empathy, compassion, to a those who society could deem as ‘undesirable,’ I feel that’s a fairly cool place to be,” says Williams.

Then in 2017, Williams starred in a brief movie for The Atlantic referred to as “Typecast,” created with company Wieden+Kennedy and director David Shane. In it, Williams ponders how, given his number of roles—from a detective within the 2007 movie Gone Child Gone, to a biology professor on the TV comedy Group—it’s the gangsters like Chalky and Omar which might be most etched in individuals’s reminiscences. Williams’ Wire co-star Wendell Pierce as soon as stated that Omar and Chalky have been two of the most iconic characters in the history of American television.

The advert confirmed Williams discussing whether or not he has repeatedly been caught enjoying the identical character with 4 completely different variations of “Mike.” However in the end, the principle Mike argues in opposition to the concept he’s typecast.

“If I have been typecast, I’d be in jail or lifeless. However I’m right here. I bought out. Acquired myself out,” says one Mike.

“You certain about that?” solutions one other Mike, wanting very a lot like Omar, a shotgun in his lap.


“Yeah,” says Mike quietly, as he’s revealed to be sitting in his condo alone.

These two advertisements illustrate each Williams’ energy as an actor—his onscreen depth and shine—in addition to the inescapable similarities between Williams the person, and the characters he portrayed. He may leap from Oscar-winning movies to internet hosting a Vice series on the real-life black market dealings of determined individuals. He was a celebrated actor with a variety of roles, even as he overtly struggled along with his personal demons. “Dependancy doesn’t go away,” he told the New York Times in 2017. “It’s an on a regular basis wrestle for me, however I’m preventing.”