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Lily Gladstone Addresses First Native American Actress Oscar Nom: “Why Did It Have To Take This Long?”

On Tuesday morning, shortly after receiving the first Native American Lead Actress Oscar nomination, Lily Gladstone told Deadline “I also just know that I’m not going to be the last.”

Gladstone is nominated for her Killers of the Flower Moon role of Mollie Burkhart, an oil-rich Osage woman married to Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio). When Mollie’s Osage Nation family are systematically murdered for their money, an FBI investigation uncovers Ernest’s terrible deception. The Martin Scorsese film is based on the 2017 nonfiction book The Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

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Having arranged to hear the nominations in Osage County on the Osage reservation, because she said, “It just felt like I wanted to be as close to Mollie as I could be”, Gladstone said she was “so honored”. But she also wondered about the fact that no Native American actresses have been nominated before now. “Why am I the first?” she said. “Why did it have to take this long for me to be the first Indigenous North American? Most of the films that show up in these categories are shot on Indigenous land in North America, and it’s taken this long.”

With the recent Golden Globes win that made her the first Indigenous recipient of Best Actress, Gladstone hopes her achievements will be “inspiring to other young Native actresses out there who are excited about just the moment of having this film out, and of having the Globes go the way that they did.”

Gladstone also spoke of a possible future in directing. “I do feel like at some point in my life, it’s going to be a pretty natural progression,” she said. “I’ve always been an incredibly collaborative actor, and every time I’ve worked with an actor-director, it’s just been unparalleled. Marty’s a fantastic actor and it makes him a fantastic director for actors. So at some point I could see that.”

Given her platform, Gladstone intends to dig into more previously-untold Native American stories. “There are a lot of Native women at different points in history that have been groundbreaking for whatever fields that they’ve been in, but have gone uncelebrated, or just basically unknown,” she said. “There’s definitely some biographies that need to be out there, because young Native women need to know that it’s been Native women who have shaped whatever field they’re in: music; science; law. There are just a ton of stories, and whether it’s me embodying these or me lending my name and some of my thoughts, even if it’s just notes and encouragement to help lift these stories, that’s honestly, I feel like the greatest gift of all of this.”

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