Rest In Peace, King: The Interesting Story Of How Michael K. Williams Got His Start In Entertainment

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Los Angeles Premiere Of MGM's "Respect" - Arrivals
Los Angeles Premiere Of MGM's "Respect" - Arrivals

Source: Rodin Eckenroth / Getty

*Global Grind*

In extremely shocking news, Michael K. Williams has been found dead at the age of 54 years old.

So far, there are no reports regarding his cause of death — we only know that he was found deceased in his NYC apartment this afternoon, September 6. At this time we would like to send our prayers to his family and loved ones, and celebrate the late legend by highlighting a lesser known part of his career.

So many people never really knew that in addition to being a veteran actor, Michael K. Williams was smooth as ever on the dance floor. Most knew him best for his role as Omar Little in The Wire and more recently, Montrose Freeman in Lovecraft Country, but Williams actually got his start in entertainment as a dancer. His first few gigs included going on tour and being in music videos for Madonna, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Ginuwine, and more. He also choreographed, and starred in, the music visual for Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love” in ‘94.

After hearing the shocking news, Ginuwine took to Instagram to say R.I.P.

“This is totally unexpected such a great personality and person who I had the pleasure of working with way early on in 96-97 as my dancer first dancer RIP to this king blessings to his family wow this is crazy….,” the famous singer said.

In an interview with his childhood friend, Queen Latifah, whom he knows as Dana, Williams said it was her rap career that inspired him to try and make it in entertainment. “I’ll never forget that feeling that I got — what that did was it gave me my first inspiration. You always inspired me. I was like ‘If D can do it, maybe I can do it.’ I couldn’t rap though, that was the only problem,” he hilariously quipped. “One day I got a job, went to school, and I was like I’m gonna make my moms proud because my moms is a hardworking woman, man, and she worked hard to take care of us in the projects. I saw a Janet Jackson video and lost my mind — it was “Rhythm Nation.” Then my lightbulb went off. I was like ‘That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go become a backup dancer for Janet Jackson!’ I found my niche… that never happened, never got to dance for Janet Jackson, but I did have a pretty good career as a dancer. I got to travel the world and work with a lot of beautiful people, but that inspiration — the fact that I can even think about that — it came from watching you become Queen Latifah!”

See that moment below.

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Williams, who’d been cut in his face during his early industry days, was specifically tapped by Tupac to play the role of the rapper’s brother in Bullet. That time on the movie set launched his acting career, eventually turning Williams into the big screen legend we know and love today. “I think he saw my pain, my struggle, my heart,” Williams said in a 2014 interview with NPR. “I was starstruck. I was like, ‘Wow, this is Tupac Shakur.'”

Don’t get it twisted, though — even until recently, he still got busy on the dance floor. Old and newer receipts below, plus his tribute to the late DMX back in June at the BET Awards. Unbelievable. Salute the late king… we are certainly going to miss him.

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