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Interest in acting surges in Hardin as Lily Gladstone makes Native American history

“It’s pretty amazing to see that there’s a spot open for Native Americans”
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Posted at 6:31 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-28 17:04:06-05

HARDIN - Interest in the drama club has increased at Hardin High School since Montana’s Lily Gladstone won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award.

“It gives all the other kids a chance to look up to a good role model,” said Kota Legaspi, a senior at Hardin High School.

Legaspi and others can be found most evenings after school rehearsing for an upcoming production of the play "Shadowland", set to play in February.

But as they practice their lines and stage cues, others like Janaya Keo can’t help but think about what’s next after high school, looking to Gladstone’s success for guidance.

“It’s representation. I didn’t think there were a lot of Native actors out there,” said Keo.

Gladstone’s work and success is helping feed the ambition of drama students like Gracelei Wilson Deputee, a freshman just starting her journey with acting.

“It’s giving a kid a chance to get out of the reservation,” she said.

The talent is never-ending at Hardin High, according to drama club director Darren Means.

“I have seen the talent of a lot of these Native American kids, and I really want to see success from them,” he said.

Means says since Gladstone’s performance in "Killers of the Flower Moon", interest in drama in Hardin has increased. Gladstone was nominated for Best Actress for her work in the Martin Scorsese film.

“I have people come to me and say, 'Hey since my kid saw this, they want to join drama club,' and this is exactly what I am looking for,” said Means.

He says not only is her role in a major motion picture an inspiration to Native American kids, but the movie itself is shedding light on Native American issues.

“Diabetes runs rampant on the reservation. I have it myself and to see that represented and how they handle it and the strength that she portrayed,” he said.

Fresh off representing Montana in the International Thespian Festival, Hardin’s drama club is looking ahead to making another statewide impact and harvesting the talent of young Native kids.

And also, setting their sights on perhaps even one day, making it big time, just like Gladstone.

“It’s pretty amazing to see that there’s a spot open for Native Americans,” said Wilson Deputee.