Michael K. Williams was more than just his character Omar Little. That’s how legacy works, though. We become filtered by perception. People are often reduced to singular acts or traits. Michael didn’t suffer the fate of being reduced, though; Omar was larger than life.
If we’re lucky enough, we find a role like Omar Little, something which defines us and gives us a platform to flourish.
“The Wire” was a slow-burning show, one which I loved when it aired. Omar fascinated me, in part because he didn’t adapt to please, and his code put his feet in motion. I loved the show more when I discovered that his killer, a young boy, and sociopath, had previously been in an episode mimicking Omar and saying he wanted to be “the next Omar.” Knowing that many of the characters on the show were based on real people gave the plot a little more kick.
Michael Williams was initially a dancer, of all things.
His scar, one earned in a horrific birthday fight when he was 25, gave him an unintended sinister look that allowed him to blossom as an actor, a career he’d never imagined. An unexpected horror surprised him with his shot in life. Michael Williams had other significant roles; it’s Omar that I picture in my head.
The above picture is one I made a couple of years ago. It’s a 16X20 custom canvas that I have in my weird sink window. I attempted to pack in meaningful references to movies, books, and icons that inspired me. I chose a few “musts,” and the rest I picked at random from a list of about 50.
Omar is in the bottom right-hand corner.
Michael died when he was 54, the same age as me. He’d struggled with drug use for years.
There are a lot of Omars walking the streets. This fact made “The Wire” such an incredible show.
There was only one Michael Williams, and his fly feet will no longer grace the Earth.
“A man gotta have a code,” Omar taught us.
I hope yours serves you well.