Lily Gladstone Makes Oscars History as First Native American Best Actress Nominee for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

By Valerie Wu | | January 23, 2023

Apple Original Films

Lily Gladstone has become the first Native American woman to be nominated for best actress at the Academy Awards. Gladstone was recognized for her role as Osage woman and historical figure Mollie Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s epic “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Gladstone’s nomination comes four years after Yalitza Aparicio, who is Indigenous Mexican, received a best actress nomination at the 2019 Oscars. Aparicio starred in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 film “Roma” as housekeeper Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutiérrez. In addition to Aparicio, two other Indigenous women — Merle Oberon for 1933’s “The Dark Angel,” who is believed to have Māori heritage in addition to South Asian, and Keisha Castle-Hughes for 2003’s “Whale Rider — have been nominated for the best actress award throughout Oscars history. Oberon is British, while Castle-Hughes is Kiwi.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” depicts the Reign of Terror in early 19th-century Oklahoma, in which members of the Osage Nation were strategically killed off by those seeking their oil money. Gladstone starred as the wife of Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), who reluctantly engages in the murderous exploits of his uncle, William King Hale (Robert De Niro), to poison his wife and gain her headrights.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” also secured several other nominations at the Oscars, including best picture, director and supporting actor for Robert De Niro. It was previously shortlisted for best makeup and hairstyling, best sound, best music – original score and best music – original song for “Wazhazhe (A Song for My People).”

Gladstone recently won best actress in a motion picture – drama at the Golden Globes. She was the first Indigenous woman to win the award. During her Globes speech, she noted the significance of the moment, saying, “This is a historic win. It doesn’t belong to just me. I’m holding it right now. I’m holding it with all of my beautiful sisters in the film at the table over here, and my mother, standing on all of your shoulders.”

“This is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream and is seeing themselves represented in our stories told by ourselves, in our own words, with tremendous allies and tremendous trust from within, from each other,” she continued.

Although “Killers of the Flower Moon” was nominated for seven awards at the Globes, Gladstone received the film’s only award.

The “Killers of the Flower Moon” actress has had much success this awards season, despite being recently snubbed at the BAFTAs. In addition to the Globes, Gladstone has been nominated in the best actress categories for honors including the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards .



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