Carmen Duncan.

Emerging and aspiring actors looking to launch into the next phase of their careers are being encouraged to apply for this year’s American Arts Film and Television Academy (AAFTA) Carmen Duncan Scholarship.

Named after the late Australian actress and activist, the initiative offers a path to the US market for acting talent via targeted packages worth more than USD$25,000.

They include online and in-person training on various aspects of the industry, as well as help with visas and immigration services.

Duncan blazed a trail for Australian actors in the US during the ’80s, portraying Iris Carrington Wheeler on the daytime soap opera Another World, a role for which she was honoured not only with nominations for the Soap Opera Awards but also an Emmy nomination.

She passed away in February 2019 at the age of 76 after a battle with gynaecological cancer.

This will be the third year the scholarship has been run, with Chloe Guy and Travis Jeffrey announced as last year’s youth and adult winners, respectively.

Guy has since been announced as part of Nick Cassavetes’ God is a Bullet, starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jamie Foxx, and January Jones.

Scholarship director and niece of Duncan, Jessica Orcsik, told IF the scholarship aimed to give a boost to fresh faces that were willing to step outside the status quo.

“[Carmen] was always about following your heart and not letting people deter you from what your big dreams are,” she said.

“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what’s around the corner, so people should dream big and go for it.

“I hope the world will continue to reopen and allow the discovery of our talent, because we have some of the best.”

The selection process comprises three rounds, the first of which requires actors to submit a self-tape representing who they are as artists and their brand.

From this, a group of 20 youth (ages 12-18) and 20 adults will then be sent a US self tape audition and asked to send follow-up tapes as part of the call back round.

They will also be invited to a zoom interview for which some of the Australian judging panel will be present. 

The 10 youth and 10 adults selected from this process will be asked to re-tape the call-back scene with specific feedback offered to the actors from their previous auditions.

A panel of US judges will then select their winner from the finalists.

Verbal and written feedback offered to all the actors about their performance through each of their rounds.

Australian judges include casting director Faith Martin, Tony Gardiner (Neighbours), EQ Media Group head of production Lisa Duff, acting coach Kym Krejus, producer Tsu Shan Chambers (Unsound), Lisa Robertson (Commerce) and Rod Hardy (December Boys).

Proceeds from this year’s scholarship will be donated to the Australian Gynaecological Foundation.

Applications for the first round of the scholarship close on June 30.

Find out more about the Carmen Duncan Scholarship here.

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