The Role of Her Life

"They saved my life," Felicia "Snoop" Pearson says of the producers of HBO's "The Wire" who hired her to play a hardened street character very much like, and named after, her. (By Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)

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By Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 16, 2007

BALTIMORE

The thing is, Felicia "Snoop" Pearson's life wasn't supposed to look like this. At all. Some folks think it shouldn't look like this. An eye for an eye, and all that that entails.

But on rare occasions, fate decides to indulge in a little rearranging of centrifugal forces, turning lives inside out and granting the object of its attention a massive, cosmic do-over. When this happens, it helps, of course, to have a face the camera craves, a compelling back story and a knack for making people want to help you.

Four years out of prison, age 24, Snoop wasn't living a life lined up along the straight and narrow. She was back in the game, peddling drugs, running with the rough boys, an undersize woman with an oversize swagger. Not much good was coming her way.

Until the night that Snoop spotted "Omar," the gay thug on the acclaimed HBO show "The Wire," at a club. Or maybe he spotted her. Accounts differ.

Omar, that is, Michael K. Williams, took in her baby butch vibe, the baggy basketball jersey, the jeans sliding south, and . . .

"I got intoxicated with her," Williams says. "I saw her strength and her vulnerability. You look in her eyes and you see things. . . . I said, 'This woman deserves a shot at something more than what the Baltimore streets have to offer.' I felt compelled to give her an option, just in case she wanted to try something else."

What he had in mind was a role on "The Wire," where she plays a coldblooded assassin with whom she just happens to share a name. Among other things.

"They saved my life," Snoop, now 26, says of "The Wire's" producers. "The route I was going was, I was going backwards again. God works in mysterious ways, that's all I can say. Thank God."

Adds her cast mate Andre Royo, who plays Bubbles on the show: "Thank God God watches HBO."

* * *

It's hard not to watch Snoop. In the very first scene of the first episode of the show's fourth season, she grabs the screen with a combination of comedy and understated malice, of thugged-out bravado and malignant affability. As horror writer Stephen King wrote in Entertainment Weekly, the TV Snoop is "perhaps the most terrifying female villain to ever appear in a television series."


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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