No Competition

Here’s why Lily Gladstone campaigned for best actress at the Oscars

Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone (she/they) has no regrets about campaigning for Best Actress at the 2024 Oscars.

Thanks to Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone’s career has been on a meteoric rise. The film, which chronicles the murders of the Osage Nation members after oil is discovered on tribal land, stars Gladstone as Mollie Kyle, an Osage woman whose family owns oil headrights. Alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon brought the heinous, systematic attacks on the Osage Nation to the silver screen.

In doing so, it also shined a light on Gladstone’s career, whose historic awards season made global headlines. Gladstone also famously campaigned for Best Actress at the 96th Academy Awards, making them the first Native American nominated for the award. While she didn’t win (Emma Stone snagged her second Oscar), many thought that if Gladstone was in the Best Supporting Actress category, she would’ve won, but Gladstone’s campaign was never about the win.

“I never decided I needed to improve my odds or boost my career,” Gladstone said for Variety. “That was my last thought,” she says frankly. “Campaigning Mollie as a lead wasn’t about me. If I was ultra-consumed with that, maybe it would have shaken out differently. But it doesn’t make sense to me. The heart of the whole story, the access point for the humanity, is Osage. I never saw Mollie as a supporting role. Your heart is not a supporting organ. Your soul and your conscience are not supporting voices. It’s the compass of everything.”

Gladstone also discussed how her campaign was an inspiration for other women of color.

“People will make what they want, but I’m glad that what other women of color have taken away from it is that we don’t always need to accept supporting positions. We’re very strong when we are supporting, but it’s also really powerful to just accept that we lead. Because that’s what we do.”

And as for competition with Stone, well Gladstone thinks pitting art against art is “ridiculous.”

“Emma and I talked about it, and had wonderful conversations about how ridiculous it is to place art in competition,” Gladstone added. “Awards are supposed to be giving accolades to the art no matter what. It’s like you’re awarding just by acknowledging and nominating, really, but then this competitive nature takes over. How does that work in something so subjective and personal as art?”

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