Lily Gladstone: An Emerging Talent to Watch in Film and Television

American actress Lily Gladstone was one of the most talked about actresses in 2023 and into the 96th Academy Awards in 2024. Although her professional screen career began in 2012, she started getting recognition in the late 2010s. Over the years, she has starred in several productions in movies and TV shows.

With her growing popularity, Lily Gladstone is one of Hollywood’s fastest-rising actresses. As a proud Native American, Gladstone continues to represent and showcase the culture wherever possible. Here’s more on Lily Gladstone’s life and career.

Lily Gladstone Was Raised On The Blackfeet Reservation

Lily Gladstone in her Indigenous People attire

Lily Gladstone was born to a Blackfeet and Nez Perce father and a white mother in Kalispell, Montana, on August 2, 1986. Her parents lived on the Blackfeet Reservation before her birth. The actress spent most of her growing years on the reservation. However, her family moved out from the reservation when she was in Middle School to be closer to her grandmother. The family settled in Seattle, where she attended and graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School in 2004.

Her Mother Had To Be Airlifted To Have A Cesarean Birth

Lily Gladstone and her mother

Although they had an Indian Health Service in Browning, there was no one available who could perform a cesarean. When Gladstone’s mother went into labor for her, an emergency helicopter had to be sent to airlift her to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. According to her father’s statement, Gladstone did not cry at birth but rather smiled while looking around the room.

Lily Gladstone Was Inspired To Become An Actress At 5

Young Lily Gladstone

It isn’t often that kids follow up on career paths they choose at age 5. However, Lily Gladstone developed a passion for acting after watching the Star Wars sequel Return of the Jedi (1983). Gladstone was particularly drawn to Kenny Baker’s Paploo character, the Ewok who aided the Rebels on Endor. For unexplained reasons at the time, Gladstone admits the Ewok single-handedly influenced her decision to be an actress.

She Made Her Screen Debut In Film

Lily Gladstone in Crash Course TV show

After graduating from Mountlake Terrace High School, Lily Gladstone studied Acting/Directing and a Native American Studies minor at the University of Montana. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 2008, she spent the next few years organizing workshops and teaching acting classes in her native community. Lily Gladstone made her film debut in 2012 in the French drama Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian. With Benicio del Toro leading the cast, Gladstone was cast in a minor role as Sunshine First Raise.

Lily Gladstone’s Breakthrough Role Was In Certain Women

Lily Gladstone in Certain Women

Kelly Reichardt’s 2016 drama Certain Women was Lily Gladstone’s breakthrough role, especially because of its box-office success. Although cast in a supporting role, it was her first film co-starring with top Hollywood actors. Laura Dern led the cast, which also starred Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams. Gladstone was cast as Jamie, introduced as a ranch hand living in isolation. Jamie worked at a farm outside of Belfry. She encounters Beth Travis (Kristen Stewart) while following a group of cars one night. Beth, who teaches an education law class, briefly becomes friends with Jamie until she’s replaced permanently by another teacher. Certain Women wasn’t only a breakthrough role for Lily Gladstone; it was also Kelly Reichardt’s highest-grossing film.

Billions Was Her First Popular Role On Television

Lily Gladstone in Billions

Lily Gladstone made her television debut in 2017. Her first television role was in the unaired pilot of WGN America’s Scalped. The series’ plot was centered around a modern crime story on a Native American Indian reservation. However, in 2019, Lily Gladstone joined the cast of Showtime’s drama series Billions in season 4. She played Roxanne, a Native American woman who became Chuck Rhoades Sr.’s (Jeffrey DeMunn) love interest. Rhoades and Roxanne later had a child and married as the series progressed. Gladstone only appeared in 6 episodes of the show. Lily Gladstone’s recent television role is as a series regular on Hulu’s true crime drama Under the Bridge (2024).

Lily Gladstone Almost Applied For An Job As An Apiculturist

Lily Gladstone in Room 104

Apiculture is the act of rearing bees. Besides her love for acting, Lily Gladstone has also had an interest in beekeeping. When she saw a job in apiculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Gladstone almost sent out an application. This was during the COVID-19 pandemic when she struggled with getting roles in film and television. However, at the last minute, Gladstone’s agent reached out for her to audition in a Martin Scorsese film, which turned out to be Killers of the Flower Moon (2023). 

Lily Gladstone Is The First Native American Actress Nominated For An Oscar

Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

With her astonishing performance in Killers of the Moon (2023), Lily Gladstone was nominated for Best Actress at the 96th Academy Awards in 2024. With her nomination, Lily Gladstone became the first Native American actress to receive an Oscar nomination. However, while this was a big win for Native Americans, Gladstone, while honored, wondered why it took so long for indigenous people to receive the recognition at the Academy Awards. Gladstone lost her nomination to Emma Stone (for Poor Things).

Lily Gladstone Uses The She/They Pronouns

Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon movie
Lily Gladstone has kept most of her private life out of the public eye. However, she identifies with the She/They pronouns. For Gladstone, she does this because most Native American indigenous languages do not have gendered pronouns. As such, the actress considers herself middle-gendered since her people, Blackfeet, and other indigenous people, are referred to as They. Lily Gladstone is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community. If you enjoyed reading about Lily Gladstone, read more about the cast of Killers of the Flower Moon.

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