Michael Kenneth Williams was born in Brooklyn, to an African-American father from South Carolina and a Bahamian mother from Nassau. He was raised in the Vandaveer housing projects in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York City, and attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School. According to a DNA analysis, he is partly descended from the Mende people of Sierra Leone. After getting in some trouble as a youth, he enrolled at the National Black Theatre in New York City. He later got a job at a pharmaceutical company. Inspired by Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, he left school and quit his job, against the wishes of his family, to pursue a career as a dancer. During a year in which he was intermittently homeless, Williams visited record labels and dance studios looking for work. He got a job as a background dancer on a music tour for Akym Sims’ dance anthem Too Blind To See It, which led to more work appearing as a dancer in videos and on tours, such as with George Michael, Madonna, as well as some modeling work. He also choreographed Crystal Waters’ 1994 single “100% Pure Love”. He is an established actor and producer, perhaps best-known for his role on the highly-acclaimed HBO Television series The Wire (2002) where he played Omar Little. Other notable works he performed in have included The Road (2009) Boardwalk Empire (2010), 12 Years a Slave (2013) and RoboCop (2014).