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Lily Gladstone on historic Oscar nod: I won’t be the last for Native Americans

Lily Gladstone has said making Oscars history as the first Native American recognised in the best actress category was “long overdue” but she feels it is “just the beginning”.

The 37-year-old, a native of Montana’s Blackfeet reservation, has been nominated for her first Academy Award for her starring role in Killers Of The Flower Moon alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s western crime thriller.

The film follows the murders of wealthy members of the Osage tribe in mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, with Gladstone playing Osage national Mollie Burkhart, who is married to DiCaprio’s character Ernest Burkhart.

Lily Gladstone
Lily Gladstone (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

“It’s about time, and I know I might be the first for native North America, but (I) certainly won’t be the last,” she told the PA news agency of her nomination.

“I know that that reverberation is shared by other indigenous kids, by elders.

“I think about our elders that grew up in a time watching movies where they didn’t see themselves, they grew up watching all of these incredible, iconic actresses in the golden age of cinema (with) no representation for themselves.

“…I’m grateful to have this acknowledgement because it really just means that this film had an impact on people, and it’s a testament to the talent that we hold as indigenous people, the natural proclivity we have as storytellers, as actors, and the universality in that.”

Gladstone added: “It is truly circumstantial that it’s me, and I know that’s just the beginning of a lot to come.”

The nomination comes after Gladstone became the first indigenous woman to win the best actress award at the Golden Globes, which she dedicated to “every little native kid out there who has a dream”.

She will now go up against Poor Things star Emma Stone in the category, alongside Carey Mulligan for Maestro, Anatomy Of A Fall’s Sandra Huller and Annette Bening for Nyad.

“I can’t remember another year that had so many incredible groundbreaking films,” Gladstone said of the nominations.

“It’s truly an honour just to have a film out this year with the line-up that’s included in the Academy’s.”

Gladstone said her co-star DiCaprio, who did not receive an Academy Award nomination, was one of the first people to congratulate her.

76th Cannes Film Festival
Leonardo DiCaprio was snubbed of an Oscar nod for his role in Killers Of The Flower Moon (Doug Peters/PA)

“When the news came in, I was FaceTiming with my parents and they immediately said ‘Tell Leo that we’re super excited, but we’re also really p***** off’ (that he was snubbed),” she told PA.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did with Mollie if it weren’t for his Ernest, I was nervous.

“As an actress that really needs to commit to and tell this complicated, impossible story of love and betrayal – he made that possible.

“He gave me the possibility of doing what I did because of the character he created, and he so deserved to be recognised for it.”

Gladstone said DiCaprio is “so gracious” and excited for her and fellow supporting actor nominee Robert De Niro, who played William Hale in the film, as well as the film’s composer Robbie Robertson – who was recognised for best original score.

BFI London Film Festival 2023
Director Martin Scorsese (Victoria Jones/PA)

“My knowledge of Martin Scorsese as a filmmaker is because of Robbie Robertson,” she told PA.

“My dad and I used to listen to his album that he had created later in his career, Robbie Robertson And The Red Road Ensemble, and that just became the score of my childhood in a lot of ways.

“I used to choreograph dances to it, and my dad back then told me that Robbie Robertson, one of his best friends is Martin Scorsese. I’m like ‘I don’t know who that is dad’.”

Gladstone said her father once predicted that Hollywood director Scorsese would one day create an “epic” Indian movie.

She also said her father used to try to comfort her when she was being bullied for being “a little too expressive and performative” as a child.

“He just said, ‘Oh, don’t worry honey, they’ll change their tune and want to be your friend when you (have) won your Oscar’,” Gladstone added.

Killers Of The Flower Moon is based on David Grann’s non-fiction book of the same name.