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Kerry Washington honors Michael K. Williams; Twitter compares Emmy loss to Chadwick Boseman

·4 min read

Although Michael K. Williams wasn't the recipient of a posthumous award during the Emmy Awards Sunday, presenter Kerry Washington said the late actor's spirit was present during an emotional tribute.

Williams' portrayal of Montrose Freeman, a father with a complex and secret-filled past, in HBO's "Lovecraft Country" earned him an Emmy nomination in July for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series. Williams died two months later, just weeks before Sunday's ceremony.

Before presenting the Emmy award for the category, Washington took a moment to honor Williams, who she said "left us far too soon" while holding back tears.

"Michael was – crazy to say was – a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being," Washington said. "Michael, I know you’re here, because you wouldn’t miss this. Your excellence, your artistry will endure. We love you."

The actor was found dead Sept. 6 in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, according to the New York Police Department. His death was being investigated as a possible drug overdose, police told The Associated Press.

Washington followed up her sentiments on Twitter, writing, "You are missed and you are loved Michael K. Williams. It was an honor to honor YOU."

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Kerry Washington arrives at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
Kerry Washington arrives at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.

The Emmy Award, which would have been Williams' first and only Emmy of his TV career, instead went to "The Crown" star Tobias Menzies, who didn't attend the ceremony. Washington accepted the gold trophy in Menzies' honor.

Social media users said the moment was eerily similar to the Oscars in April when Anthony Hopkins stunned with the best-actor win over Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer last August at age 43. The British acting legend wasn't in attendance, and the show awkwardly ended with presenter Joaquin Phoenix standing alone onstage.

"Michael K. Williams doesn't win the Emmy in his category; the person who does isn't there, even virtually. Sort of similar to the Oscars with Anthony Hopkins and Chadwick Boseman," tweeted @RothsReviews. User @LeaMTL tweeted added: "So Michael K. Williams gets the Chadwick Boseman treatment."

The Emmys closed its in memoriam segment, performed by Leon Bridges and Jon Batiste, with a poignant quote from Williams: "The only way for me to say ‘thank you’ is by making sure the foundation that I am standing on is strong enough to support the next person that will stand on these two shoulders.”

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Williams' powerful portrayals were seen in films like "Inherent Vice,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Road.” But it was his ability to captivate audiences with powerful yet vulnerable roles of Black men in TV series like HBO's "The Wire" and "Lovecraft," which was canceled after one season, that left a mark.

Williams had been nominated five times, four for supporting roles in "Bessie," the HBO biopic of blues giant Bessie Smith, and series including "The Night Of" and "When They See Us."

He was known and loved by many as Omar Little, a “stick-up boy” based on real figures from Baltimore, on "The Wire." He won the Emmy for his role as Montrose before his death: The voting deadline predated it.

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Michael K. Williams wins posthumous Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in "Lovecraft Country."
Michael K. Williams wins posthumous Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in "Lovecraft Country."

On the day of his funeral, his "Lovecraft" co-star Jurnee Smollett, who played Letitia Lewis in the series, posted a touching tribute to the actor, writing how they were all supposed to be together during this special time.

"He was supposed to be here with us this week in L.A. for the Emmys," she wrote. She described one of the first scenes she filmed with Williams, and remembered looking into his eyes that held so much emotion.

"That's the beauty of MKW’s instrument – he threw his entire being into each moment w/ such bravery and sacrifice," she added.

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Contributing: Pamela Avila

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Emmys: Michael K. Williams gets tribute from Kerry Washington

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