cover image Scenes From My Life: A Memoir

Scenes From My Life: A Memoir

Michael K. Williams, with Jon Sternfeld. Crown, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-24037-3

The late Emmy-nominated actor recounts his endeavor to overcome poverty, abuse, and addiction in this immensely inspiring and candid debut. Born in Brooklyn in 1966, Williams endured a difficult childhood marked by an absentee father, a suffocating and abusive mother, bullying friends, and molestation, before turning to drugs as a way of “letting me disappear from myself.” Employing the arts as a “form of rebellion,” Williams became a backup dancer and began appearing in music videos, where he started to unlearn “macho code[s]” of suppressing his feelings: “If you push something down, it’ll find its way out,” he writes in one of the book’s many raw and moving scenes. “Jay-Z says we can’t heal what we never reveal. And it’s true.” A couple years later, Tupac Shakur spotted Williams’s headshot and launched his acting career in the mid 1990s, leading Williams to land his breakout role nearly a decade later as Omar on The Wire. While the intensity of his performances often reawakened Williams’s addiction struggles, he recounts how he used his hardships as inspiration “to bring others up” via organizations—such as his own nonprofit, Making Kids Win—that were dedicated to ending cycles of violence and poverty in marginalized communities. This bittersweet and poignant work will leave readers in awe. (Aug.)