Lily Gladstone balances heart, family, humor in 'Fancy Dance,' story of missing Indigenous woman

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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Lily Gladstone back on the big screen in 'Fancy Dance'
"Art as an extension of activism is a powerful thing." Lily Gladstone helps bring the story of missing indigenous women into the light in the new movie, "Fancy Dance."

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) -- This year has already been quite a year for actress Lily Gladstone. She was in the thick of the Oscar race for her work in "Killers of the Flower Moon." She then co-starred in the Hulu series, "Under the Bridge." Now, she returns with a third project... "Fancy Dance."

In "Fancy Dance," Gladstone plays Jax, a woman who is caring for her teenage niece, Roki. Jax's sister has been missing on the Seneca Cayuga Reservation in Oklahoma. The Feds won't take her disappearance seriously - a missing indigenous woman on the reservation doesn't seem to be a priority.

For Gladstone, it's important to tell stories that don't often get a lot of attention.

"I mean, before I had a film career, I was using arts as activism, seeing that there was this real place for performance art to help communities," said Gladstone. "One thing I love about cinema is you can watch it in community, or you can watch it alone and you're watching it from a very insider-out perspective. You're learning these things, while you're caring deeply about the characters. I'm thrilled that I get to apply what I love individually, my passion for performance and storytelling, can also have such a profound impact both emotionally and, you know, socially."

Filmmaker Erica Tremblay wrote the character of Jax expressly for Gladstone.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to tell a story about my community and my culture, to use my language, and amalgamations of people that I grew up with," said Tremblay.

Newcomer Isabel Deroy-Olson plays Roki. This is her first feature film. She says she learned a lot from Gladstone, both on and off camera.

"We have such a great friendship," said Deroy-Olson. "She's just the kindest person, and the most welcoming presence to have on set and that's something that I tried to emulate to the best of my abilities."

Gladstone let Isabel know she's doing a pretty good job with that!

"Fancy Dance" is in theaters now and will be released on Apple TV+ June 28.