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Mountlake Terrace High School is rooting for Lily Gladstone

A woman wearing a black and white polka dot top in front of white wall.
Victoria Will
Lily Gladstone poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in New York.

Lily Gladstone won this year’s Golden Globe and SAG awards for Best Actress for her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon. This Sunday, she has the chance to add Oscar winner to that list and fulfill a prophecy made two decades ago by her classmates at Mountlake Terrace High School.

Josh Ryder was one of those classmates. He and Gladstone were voted “Most likely to win an Oscar.” Ryder studied acting in college but now runs a restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. He applauds Gladstone's perseverance in pursuing a career that comes with a lot of rejection and isn't surprised by the success she's found.

"Part of what makes Lily unique is just her longevity, and her tenacity to stay in the game, which is a really demanding and hard way to not only make a living, but also cultivate joy," Ryder said.

Ryder remembered Gladstone as being dedicated to the craft of acting even back then but also being like any other normal teenager.

"She was still a teenager, silly and playful and fun and goofy," Ryder said. "We did all the normal things that kids would do, hanging out down at Edmonds beach, go spend a few bucks at Dick's Drive-In, you know, all the classic Pacific Northwest things."

The two occasionally texted throughout the years, according to Ryder. Most recently, they saw each other this past December when Gladstone was in Seattle to receive an award from the Seattle Film Critics Society. Ryder said it's been a thrill watching the success of his former classmate. He and some of their classmates organized a watch party for Sunday at their alma mater.

"Hopefully…," Ryder said before stopping himself. "I'm just gonna manifest it — when Lily wins the Best Actress we will be in the theater watching on the big screen where we all met, which is going to be pretty cool."

Gladstone is the first Native American woman nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. If she wins Sunday, she would become the first Indigenous or Native American person to win an Oscar in an acting category.

Ryder said he hopes no matter what, people are inspired by Gladstone and her dedication to the arts and to bringing other people to the table from marginalized communities.

"I think that Lily, like Sue Bird, like Megan Rapinoe, are kind of the model for what a 21st century celebrity should be and what other celebrities should aspire to be," Ryder said.

"Using your platform to call awareness authentically to where you come from and what you stand for."

The Oscars start Sunday, March 10 at 4 p.m. PT.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Grace Madigan covers arts and culture with a focus on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.