So many people were today years old when they realized Michael K. Williams gets crazy on the dance floor. Most know him best from 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. Now an acting legend, he first worked as a dancer on tour and in music videos for Madonna, George Michael, and more. He also choreographed, and starred in, the music visual for Crystal Waters’ “100% Pure Love” in ‘94.
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.
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 this day, he still gets busy on the dance floor. Old and newer receipts below. Salute the longtime king.