‘Killers Of The Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone Makes History As First Native Actress Of American Descent To Be Oscar Nominated

Lily Gladstone has made Oscar history.

On Tuesday morning Gladstone was nominated in the Lead Actress category, making her the first ever Native woman of American descent to be nominated in this category.

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If she wins, she will be the first indigenous actress to do so in this category.

In Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone portrays Mollie Burkhart, an oil-rich Osage woman married to Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio), the nephew of an influential rancher. When her Osage Nation family and friends are systematically murdered, and her own health fails dramatically, a murder investigation ensues, led by the then-nascent FBI.

Earlier this month, Gladstone who is of Piegan Blackfeet and Nez Perce heritage, made Golden Globe history too, as she became the first indigenous woman to win Best Actress. In her acceptance speech she said, “This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little native kid out there who has a dream to see themselves represented, and our stories told by ourselves in our own words, with tremendous allies and tremendous trust with and from each other.”

Previously, Gladstone was known for indie films like Certain Women and the television series Billions and Reservation Dogs. In 2023, she starred in Fancy Dance, which follows Jax (Gladstone) as she kidnaps her niece Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson) from her white grandparents and attempts to reunite the young girl with her mother. She told Deadline Fancy Dance is “complementary” to Killers of the Flower Moon, as it is “same place, in a lot of ways same story, just a hundred years later.”

Indigenous women have barely been recognized in the Lead Actress category. According to Academy records, before today, there have been only two instances: Yalitza Aparicio, who is Mexican of indigenous descent, was nominated for Roma in 2018, while Keisha Castle-Hughes, who is a New Zealander of Maori descent, was nominated for Whale Rider in 2003.

In 1935, Sri Lankan actress Merle Oberon (also the first Asian actor nominated in any category) was nominated in the Lead Actress category for The Dark Angel. She is also partly of Maori descent.

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