Applications have opened for the sixth annual Heath Ledger Scholarship, which is being administered by the Los Angeles-based, non-profit organization Australians in Film. The scholarship is open to any emerging Australian actor to further their career and training in the US and provides over $20,000 in prizes for the winner.
Named after the much loved late Australian actor Heath Ledger, who served as ambassador for Australians in Film (AIF) before his untimely death. The scholarship includes a return flight to Los Angeles on Virgin Australia, a 10-day California trip from Visit California, a lifetime membership to StarNow, one year of acting classes at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre, a VIP casting package, and $10,000 cash, allowing talented young Aussies the opportunity to establish themselves in the heart of the entertainment industry, and reach an international audience.
Kim Ledger (father of the late actor), who has assumed the role of Patron in honour of his son, has ensured that the scholarship program continues to thrive, and that emerging Australian actors will always have a shot at the major international market. “As Patron of the Heath Ledger Scholarship, I welcome applications for the 2014 awards from those seeking to begin or progress a future within the film arts industry based in Los Angeles. The Committee will start reviewing these applications in April and our experienced Judging panel will select an appropriate candidate for announcement in early June,” said Ledger. “On behalf of the Ledger family and the Australians in Film Scholarship Team, we warmly wish all applicants much success in their future endeavours.”
Previous recipients of the scholarship include James Mackay (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Ryan Corr, (Not Suitable for Children), Oliver Ackland (The Slap, Cloudstreet) and Anna McGahan (House Husbands). Benefactors to the program include the Ledger family, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Alex O’Loughlin, Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phil Noyce and Baz Luhrmann.
Last years recipient James Mackay stated, “Receiving the Heath Ledger Scholarship is an incredible honor. It has been a huge boost in momentum and profile – the kind of intangible factors that are invaluable in the early years of a career. Thanks to the resources of the Scholarship, I am now able to base myself in LA, and begin the process of building a career and a working life in the US – I cannot overstate my gratitude for this. This award, in such a short space of time, has become recognized within the industry not only as a vibrant and fitting monument to one of our greatest actors, and a symbol of remarkable opportunity for emerging Australian actors; but also as an expression of the support that Australians in Film offers to the wider community of Australians working in the American industry.”
As in the past, the 2014 judging panel will consist of influential actors, casting agents and industry executives. Past judges have included Wes Bentley, Jude Law and Rachel Griffiths, Actors; Gregor Jordan, Kieran Darcy-Smith and Catherine Hardwicke, Directors; Ann Fay and Nikki Barrett.
“It is important to us at Australians in Film to foster growth and filmmaking within our own community,” explained Australians in Film President Tracey Vieira. “The Heath Ledger Scholarship allows for Australian filmmakers to grow their work within the film business.”
Excerpts from the AIF HLS announcement.
Feature Image from The Hollywood Reporter, other images from AIF.