Melissa Yandell Smith, who played the sister of Frances McDormand in Oscar-winner Nomadland, has died of cancer.
The actor made her late-career screen debut opposite McDormand, who she had been friends with since their time together at the Yale School of Drama in the late 1970s.
She appeared in the film as Dolly, who provided a small glimpse into the background McDormand’s character Fern, a modern-day nomad who lost everything in the 2008 financial crisis.
“You could see me when I was hiding from everybody else. Sometimes you could see me before I saw myself. I needed that in my life,” Dolly says to Fern in the film.
Prior to her role in Nomadland, Smith helped to steer San Francisco’s esteemed American Conservatory Theatre for 25 years.
“So many have been touched by her talent, generosity, intellect, grace, and wonderful sense of humour. She will be greatly missed,” the company write in an Instagram post.
In April, Nomadland took home the most awards at the Oscars. It collected three trophies for Best Picture, Best Director for Chloé Zhao and Best Actress In A Leading Role for McDormand.
Zhao was the first woman of colour to win the Oscar for Best Director and only the second woman ever to take home the prize. The only other female director to win in the show’s 93-year history is Kathryn Bigelow, who was honoured for The Hurt Locker in 2010.
During the film’s promotional tour, McDormand revealed that she was offered a job in a shop during filming. “In one town in Nebraska I went to the local Target and I was offered employment,” she said.