Lily Gladstone Makes Movie History

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

In 81 years of Golden Globes history, an Indigenous person has never taken home one of the prestigious golden awards. Until now. For her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, Lily Gladstone just became the first Indigenous actor to win a Golden Globe award, winning Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama.

Lily Gladstone Becomes The First Indigenous Actor To Win A Golden Globe

Lily Gladstone, who identifies as Blackfeet/Nimíipuu, not only delivered a powerful performance as Mollie Burkhart in the film but also made a significant statement by starting her acceptance speech in the Blackfeet language. The actress, who uses she/they pronouns, expressed gratitude for the historic achievement, emphasizing that the win belonged not only to her but also to her fellow actresses and particularly mentioned Tantoo Cardinal, who portrayed her mother in the film.

Discusses Indigenous Actors In Hollywood

The actor acknowledged the scarcity of lead roles for Indigenous actors in Hollywood and highlighted the importance of accurate representation. Lily Gladstone addressed the challenges faced by Native actors in the industry, sharing insights into Hollywood’s past practice of inventing Native languages instead of depicting them authentically.According to the actress, historically, sound mixers in Hollywood would record a Native actor’s lines in English and then run them backward so it sounded like an Indigenous language. This is just one small part of Indigenous erasure so common in U.S. history, and one of the many reasons why Lily Gladstone says she is glad to be able to speak even a little bit of the language of her Blackfeet culture. In Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone’s character speaks both English and Osage throughout the feature. 

Her Killers Of The Flower Moon Performance Praised Across The Board

Lily Gladstone’s performance in Killers of the Flower Moon earned her critical acclaim, making her a favorite at the start of the awards season, with previous wins at the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. Despite the success, she remained sensitive to the concerns of Native critics who found the film too traumatizing to watch.In her acceptance speech, Lily Gladstone dedicated the historic win “for every little res kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream.” She emphasized the importance of seeing oneself represented in stories told by their own communities and allies who understand the significance of authentic storytelling.

Historical In Multiple Ways

Lily Gladstone’s part in Killers of the Flower Moon is historical in more ways than one. According to a recent research brief by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, out of the 1,600 highest-grossing movies spanning the last 16 years, only one film showcased a Native American protagonist. Furthermore, among the 62,224 speaking characters in this dataset, a mere 133 were Native, with 34 of these roles being portrayed by non-Native actors.

Diversity And Representation In Hollywood

This win not only marks a significant milestone for Lily Gladstone but also highlights the need for increased diversity and representation in the entertainment industry, especially for Indigenous communities. As Hollywood continues to evolve, Gladstone’s victory stands as a testament to the power of authentic storytelling and the impact it can have on audiences worldwide.