In the meantime, the entertainer’s larger vision will be brought to life in Snow On Tha Bluff, a film released Tuesday on DVD and Netflix, which premiered at Slamdance in 2011, shocking audiences with its graphic mix of actual and dramatized footage of the drug trade in Atlanta.
“It’s really a raw look at what’s going on in our streets and our country,” Williams emphasizes. “These are not actors. The pain you see is real.”
The story follows drug slinger Curtis Snow through the routine of dealing crack and dodging drive-bys while ultimately aiming to improve his circumstances. The conditions are bleak, the images, scaring.
Nevertheless, says Williams, it’s the truth.
“If you think this is not in your community, you’re sadly mistaken,” he explains, addressing scenes depicting women strung out on crack. “If it bothers you, if you think it’s a poor portrayal, then help lift these sisters up. We can’t sit in our comfort zone or the safety of our condos and our gated communities, and feel like it doesn’t affect us…There are people living in Atlanta – a mecca city – like it’s a third world country.”
Williams comes from a poor community in Flatbush, Brooklyn, but forged a prosperous path by committing to the arts. Beginning as a dancer, he picked up moves watching Janet Jackson videos, and later got into acting, with a boost from the late Tupac Shakur.
Auditioning for a role in Shakur’s film, Bullet, Williams’ acting debut came when the rapper happened upon his now famous facial attribute.
“He saw a Polaroid picture of me and noticed the scar,” recalls Williams, referencing the mark on his forehead. “He said I looked “thugged-out enough” to play his little brother.”
Success has since followed Williams’ every move. His current hit series Boardwalk Empire returns to HBO in September for a third season, and, despite its conclusion years ago, fans of The Wire know the show will never, truly, be over.
From a theatrical perspective, Williams says both trademark characters have offered a challenge.
“For Chalky, basically, I went into my family and I pulled together what I could remember of five dead men who were living during [his] time,” the actor remembers. “With Omar, I was able to look at people from my community, and I was able to go into Baltimore and pick-up his texture and his dialect.”
Seemingly, ODB will bring a collaborative unity of sources, and also push Williams to an even higher level as an artist.
Suffice it say, the real life Omar spars with no puppies on his way to greatness.
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter at @courtgarcia