Lily Gladstone recently debuted at Cannes—alongside her friend and Killers of the Flower Moon co-star Leonardo DiCaprio—wearing Valentino: a devastatingly beautiful black cashmere cape that featured abstract floral embellishments and seemed to have been made for her alone. The cape was from Valentino’s fall/winter 2022/2023 couture collection, which, per the brand, “broadens the spectrum of beauty” by centring what is peripheral and turning “into protagonists those who, once, did not even have supporting roles.”

That also describes Indigenous women in a nutshell, especially in Hollywood. We’re rarely portrayed as people with layers or dynamism, but Gladstone, who has Blackfeet (Siksikaitsitapi) and Nez Perce (Nimíipuu) heritage, never makes herself smaller. “I’m not sure I know how to dissolve into the background,” she tells me via Zoom, leaning in so close to the screen that it cuts off the top of her head. She’s been subverting the lens for years, such as in her 2016 performance in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, which offers a rare depiction of a queer Indigenous woman. “I’ve been really lucky that my career has largely been shaped by women filmmakers,” she says.

Mark Seliger

Blouse (Max Mara), headpiece (Stephen Jones Millinery) and earrings (Mahnaz Collection)

Now, her performance in the Martin Scorsese-helmed Killers has made her the Golden Globes’ first Indigenous nominee—and winner—in the category of Best Actress in a Motion Picture—Drama and the first Indigenous person in history to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. Who better to challenge common misconceptions than Gladstone, who’s been known to fight for better representation as well as equity and equality, even when it carries a cost. During her sophomore year at the University of Montana, where she was studying drama, the theatre department decided to add Peter Pan to its fall slate. She was the only Indigenous woman student in the department at the time, so people told her she’d be “a shoo-in for the role of Tiger Lily,” she said in 2019. Gladstone refused to audition, even though students were expected to read for every production. Taking the stand isolated her, but it motivated her to expand the way Indigenous people are seen.

Last fall, Gladstone was photographed—sign in hand, dancing a little and ready to fight—protesting with fellow SAG-AFTRA members in Times Square. The image isa contrast to her onscreen work, which is typically introspective and focused on quietness, subtlety and movement. “I don’t really come into these spaces and push my presence to the front,” says Gladstone. She works from the heart, where she says her spirit lives. “The audience will know you’re feeling it if you’re feeling it.

Mark Seliger

Dress (Simone Rocha), earrings, bracelets and rings (Asep Designs) and boots (Paul Andrew)


“I’ve never really been an eye-on-the-prize person. There’s a quote from Carl Sagan and Iosif Shklovskii’s book, Intelligent Life in the Universe: ‘The prey runs to the hunter.’ That’s something that has kind of governed what my goals are—just keep doing it and what’s meant to find you will come to you.”


“When I play characters who are holding a lot of trauma, I make them left-handed. I’m right-handed, so it takes a lot of physical work, but literally being able to hand yourself off to yourself… It’s an easier way to physically carve out two different spaces.”

Mark Seliger

Dress (Alexander McQueen), earrings (Asep Designs) and gloves (Sermoneta Gloves)


“When I accepted this role, I knew that my life was going to take a very different turn and I would have a much bigger spotlight on me. So I’ve had a low level of anxiety for the past couple of years about what’s going to happen when the internet figures out who I am. So far, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised that there’s way more love than hate out there. And that goes back to community. It’s a reminder of, like, ‘Okay, maybe all these things I’ve been saying—that representation matters and that seeing yourself represented gives you a sense of your place in the world—[resonated].’ So my anxiety went away when I started seeing all the love and excitement and support.”


“Marty [Scorsese]’s 80th-birthday party. I couldn’t turn around without being like, ‘Oh, my God.’ First, I sat next to Robbie Robertson, who I’ve loved since I was a kid. Before I did a lot of theatre, I was just a chunky little expressive ballerina who would choreograph her own dances, and I did a lot of choreography to Robbie Robertson & The Red Road Ensemble. Margot Robbie was seated at one table; Jennifer Lawrence was at another. And in all of that, the person who was grounding for me was Leonardo DiCaprio. Like: ‘Where’s my friend? There’s my friend! What is happening?’ So that was a very Hollywood experience—I couldn’t turn around without [seeing] a titan right there.”

Mark Seliger

Dress (Lauren Good Day), flats (Etro), Zuni cuff and ring (The Way We Wore), and earrings (Gladstone's own, Bigbow Beads)

Mark Seliger

Lily Gladstone is wearing a dress by Roland Mouret, a net mask by Leila Jinnah and earrings and a ring by Asep Designs. Publisher: Sophie Banford Editor-in-chief: Joanna Fox Photographer: Mark Seliger Stylist: Arianne Phillips Hairstylist: Bob Recine (The Wall Group) Makeup artist: Romy Soleimani (The Wall Group) Manicurist: Casey Herman (The Wall Group) Set designer: Jakob Bokulich Producers: Ruth Levy and Madi Overstreet