Lily Gladstone’s emotional ‘Variety’ speech left the room raw

Killers of the Flower Moon has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. From discussion of the heinous crimes depicted within the film causing controversy to the positioning of the movie, Killers of the Flower Moon continues to create conversations online and IRL.

As does its leading lady, Lily Gladstone. The 37-year-old actress, who identifies as queer, portrays Mollie Kyle, an Osage Nation member whose husband systematically murders her tribe members, including her sisters and mother. 

The Martin Scorsese film, which also stars Leonardo DiCarpio and Robert De Niro, depicts an atrocity that is far from fiction and joins a list of media highlighting the impact of colonization on Native Americans. Based on David Grann’s book of the same name, Apple TV+’s Killers of the Flower Moon follows the true, tragic murders of members of the Osage Nation in Osage County, Oklahoma, and the subsequent FBI investigation of them, during the 1920s after oil is discovered on their land. 

And while at Variety’s Power of Women event, Gladstone was honored for her role in the film and her work as an Indigenous women’s rights advocate.

Gladstone works with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), a nonprofit that strives to end violence against Indigenous women. Introduced by DiCaprio, during her honoree speech, Gladstone highlighted how the NIWRC supported her as she aimed to use her acting as activism at the beginning of her career.

“I have always known that acting is my activism,” Gladstone said. “When I was struggling to pay a $300-a-month rent in 2011, holding a lot of different jobs and taking what I could, Lucy Simpson saw work that I had done with her children in a camp using art and activism to bring out and strengthen their voices.”

Gladstone continued by discussing the current plight of Native American women, the lack of support within the United States, and how NIWRC is working tirelessly to change that. 

“Native women, four out of five in our lifetimes, will experience some form of violence at the hands of a romantic partner or someone who wants to be,” said Gladstone. “One thing that NIWRC is doing is bringing these stories forward of survivors in front of lawmakers, in front of Congress, in front of people who have the power to enact real change, to give our people just what we need to protect ourselves. Bare minimum.”

You can check out her full speech below.

Killers of the Flower Moon is streaming on Apple TV+. 

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