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7 Memorable Quotes From the Inimitable Michael K. Williams, Best Known for His Portrayal of Omar on 'The Wire'

The late, great actor passed away suddenly at 54, but left behind a legacy of openness about his life's struggles and successes.

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Michael K. Williams was a constant presence in Hollywood just long enough to be taken for granted. The five-time-Emmy-nominated TV and film actor — known to most for his role as openly gay stick-up man Omar Little in HBO's criminal-justice saga The Wire passed away unexpectedly in his Brooklyn apartment last weekend at the age of 54. 

Amy Sussman | Getty Images

Williams, who was born and bred in Brooklyn and began his journey in show business as a dancer and choreographer in the early 1990s, was utterly fearless as a screen performer. Beyond his iconic turn as Little, Williams excelled at defying stereotypes in lived-in roles as aspiring underworld figurehead Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire; a gay veteran in closed-minded small-town Texas in Hap and Leonard; conflicted parent of a wrongly accused teen in When They See Us; and very recently an alcoholic father grappling with his closeted lifestyle and a legacy of abuse in the surreal period thriller Lovecraft Country, among dozens of other supporting and starring parts Williams imbued with jagged soul. 

He was also consistently candid about his own periodic struggles with addiction, poverty and self-doubt, and how through it all he fought for what he believed was his potential. In memory of the late Michael K. Williams, here are seven quotes in his own words that underscore why he ought not to be taken for granted anymore. 

Related: 17 Inspirational Quotes from Oscar-Winning Movies

“Omar is this dark-skinned outspoken man in the hood who didn’t care what anyone thought of him. He is everything I wished I could be.” — New York Times, June 2017

"Feeling good, that's got to come from the inside out, not the outside in." — Fresh Air, July 2016

"I don't believe in mistakes. I believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and if it was meant to be, I would have been there.” — Vanity Fair, August 2017

“Arresting people, or ruining people’s lives for a small, nonviolent charge like marijuana, drug addiction or mental illness is not the way to go. Those are health issues, not criminal issues. It’s the grace of God that I wasn’t imprisoned for my antics growing up.” — The New Yorker, December 2014

“We look at shows like The WireWhen They See Us and now Lovecraft Country, and we get a chance to see what is wrong with us.  In entertainment, it is good to tell stories about love, fantasy and escapism, but it also very important to dig deeper. A lot of us take our cues from certain pieces of art like these shows, and it connects us." — Comics Beat, August 2020

"Really quickly, I became 'the bald-headed boy with the scar,' and I knew that that was gonna get old. I had enough common sense to know that, 'If I want to parlay this five minutes of fame, I’m gonna have to go and get some substance under my belt.'" — Hollywood Reporter, June 2011

"These characters, these are stories that the universe is sending me to portrayThey have impacted my personal life in one way or another. I'm a work in progress. I strive to better than the dude I was yesterday." — The Breakfast Club, September 2016

Related: 16 Inspiring Quotes From U.S. Open Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe

Kenny Herzog

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Kenny Herzog is currently Digital Content Director at Entrepreneur Media. Previously, he has served as Editor in Chief or Managing Editor for several online and print publications, and contributed his byline to outlets including Rolling Stone, New York Magazine/Vulture, Esquire, The Ringer, Men's Health, TimeOut New York, A.V. Club, Men's Journal, Mic, Mel, Nylon and many more.