Lily Gladstone Makes History as First Native American Actress Oscar Nominee for 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

The 'Killers of the Flower Moon' star has already won a Golden Globe this awards season.

In a groundbreaking moment for indigenous representation in Hollywood, Lily Gladstone has etched her name in Oscars history by securing a nomination in the Lead Actress category. 

This nomination marks a significant milestone as Gladstone becomes the first Native woman of American descent ever nominated for an Academy Award in this prestigious category. 

Gladstone's outstanding performance in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon has not only earned her the nomination but also positioned her as a trailblazer for indigenous talent in the film industry. Portraying the character of Mollie Burkhart, an oil-rich Osage woman married to Ernest, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Gladstone's portrayal has captivated audiences and critics alike.

Gladstone released a statement about her Oscar nomination, saying, "I am so deeply grateful to the Academy for this unparalleled honor. It has been a great blessing in and of itself to be a working actor at all, and to get to tell a story like “Killers of the Flower Moon” is beyond what I could have ever hoped for. I both share and owe this moment to the incomparable Martin Scorsese, who honored the voices and wishes of the Osage Nation with such fortitude, and to my gracious and legendary co-stars Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, and especially Leonardo DiCaprio. His immense, exceptional talent and heart made this possible, I am forever a proud and grateful friend."

She continued, "I also want to acknowledge the rest of the amazing cast and crew that I was lucky enough to work with, including so many talented Osage and Indigenous artists, advocates, activists, leaders and storytellers. Indigenous excellence shaped this magnificent film, both in front of and behind the camera, at all levels of production. It's all the more sweet to get to share this honor with the legendary Six Nations Cayuga and Mohawk musician Robbie Robertson, Osage Nation composer Scott George, Marty, Bob, Thelma Schoonmaker, Jacqueline West, Rodrigo Prieto, Jack Fisk and all who were a part of bringing this difficult and necessary story to fruition on such a masterful scale. A heartfelt congratulations to Annette, Sandra, Carey and Emma — you are all astounding and inspire me endlessly…I struggle to believe I’m in your company. To each of these humans, I say Iitaamiiksistsikomiit; I hope you all enjoy this beautiful day."

Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Based on a true story, Killers of the Flower Moon unfolds as a gripping narrative around the systematic murders of Mollie Burkhart's Osage Nation family and friends. As her health deteriorates dramatically, a murder investigation is set in motion, led by the then-nascent FBI.

Joining Gladstone in this year's Oscar nominations for the Lead Actress category is Annette Bening (Nyad), Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall), Carey Mulligan (Maestro), and Emma Stone (Poor Things). 

Killers of the Flower Moon earned 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Directing (Scorsese), Film Editing, Cinematography, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Costume Design and Production Design. 

Despite the well-deserved Oscar recognition for Gladstone's outstanding performance, the same level of acclaim did not extend to Leonardo DiCaprio, who skillfully portrayed her deceitful and troubled husband in the film.

This accolade follows Gladstone's recent historic win at the Golden Globes, where she became the first Indigenous woman to win the Best Actress award. In her acceptance speech, she dedicated the honor to "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."

Prior to her acclaimed role in Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone was recognized for her work in indie films such as Certain Women and TV series like Billions and Reservation Dogs

Jesse Grant/Getty Images for AFI

The Lead Actress category at the Oscars has seen limited recognition for indigenous women. Before Gladstone's historic nomination, only two instances were recorded in Academy history. Yalitza Aparicio, of Mexican indigenous descent, earned a nomination for Roma in 2018, and Keisha Castle-Hughes, a New Zealander of Maori descent, was nominated for Whale Rider in 2003. Additionally, in 1935, Sri Lankan actress Merle Oberon, of Maori descent, received a nomination for The Dark Angel, marking her as the first Asian actor nominated in any category.

ET's Rachel Smith spoke to Gladstone at the National Board of Review Awards earlier this month, and she reacted to being voted Most Likely to Win an Oscar back when she was in high school.

"We'll see," the 37-year-old actress told ET of if the high school superlative will come true.

Edmonds School District

Even if Gladstone, who won in the Best Actress category at the NBR Awards, doesn't nab an Oscar this year, having her high school pic go viral has had an amazing impact.

"One of the nicest things about it, honestly, is the way that it's kind of reunited my high school class," Gladstone said. "Everybody's so excited about this."

Gladstone was also delighted that the viral pic drummed up some attention for her classmate, Josh Ryder, who won the award alongside her.

Mountlake Terrace High Hawkeye and TEMPO staff, 2004

"Having these moments and seeing Josh Ryder out there, who's a fantastic actor. Anybody in the Seattle area, go check out Betty Restaurant and Bar 'cause he's the owner there," she said. "It's been incredible to have this moment to reconnect with all these old friends."

As for what she'd tell her high school-aged self, Gladstone noted, "There may have been a little bit of, 'Ugh, Josh is holding a little fake Oscar.' It's OK. You know what? Just chill. It's OK."

Ryder previously reacted to the photo, writing on Instagram, "It's so f**king cool to see @lilygladstone soar. Elegant and empowering others; she continues to be a class act. I'm over the moon for this badass babe. Go, Lily, go!"

The 96th Academy Awards will be presented live at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 7 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. PT on ABC. Until then, keep checking for complete Oscars coverage.