Tantoo Cardinal, the talented actress who recently starred in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone, is making waves in her seventies. With a long and successful career, she expresses gratitude for still being recognized and is excited about the future. In an exclusive interview with OK!, Cardinal opens up about her experience working on the film and her hopes for more representation in the industry.
Cardinal shares that one of her favorite parts of shooting “Killers of the Flower Moon” was meeting the people who were resuscitating the Osage Language. She describes it as a “beam of love” to carry the love they had for their culture by preserving, writing, and teaching the language. Cardinal’s involvement in the movie was driven by her desire to bring little-known Indigenous stories to the public. She acknowledges the difficulties Indigenous stories face in reaching a wider audience and is grateful for the opportunity to be part of a project with significant backing.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinal used her time on set to create Tap Root Actors Academy, an acting and filmmaking academy for Indigenous youth based in Alberta. Now in its fourth year, the academy is dedicated to developing storytellers in the Metis community of Kikino. Cardinal’s passion for storytelling extends beyond her own career, and she is committed to nurturing the next generation of Indigenous talent.
Working with Martin Scorsese, the director of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” was a delight for Cardinal. She describes him as a master of his craft and emphasizes the freedom of creative expression she experienced while collaborating with him. Lily Gladstone, who played Mollie Burkhart in the film, won the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama at the 2024 Golden Globes. Cardinal hopes that the movie’s success will lead to more awareness of Indigenous stories and shed light on the depth and damage of colonialism, genocide, and femicide.
At the age of 73, Cardinal feels honored to still be working in Hollywood. She reflects on the lack of substantial roles for Indigenous women throughout her career and expresses hope for change. Cardinal believes that Indigenous stories have been buried for far too long and that it’s time for them to be discovered and shared. She looks forward to being part of diverse stories in the future and hopes that the industry will move past the need to explain her Indigenous identity in every role she takes on.
As Cardinal continues to break barriers in the industry, she is excited about what the future holds. She believes that she has reached a place where she can be cast as a human being, beyond the limitations of being seen solely as an “Indian.” Cardinal points out that Indigenous women have achieved remarkable feats, even venturing into space, and it’s time for society to catch up with the realities of Indigenous culture.
In conclusion, Tantoo Cardinal’s journey in Hollywood is one of resilience and determination. Her involvement in “Killers of the Flower Moon” and her ongoing commitment to storytelling through her academy showcase her passion for sharing Indigenous stories. Cardinal’s hope for the future is to see more representation and diverse narratives in the industry. With her experience and talent, there’s no doubt that Cardinal will continue to make a significant impact on the entertainment world.