James Mackay with Kim Ledger
The pool of talented young Australian actors is so vast the judges of the Heath Ledger Scholarship presented by Australians in Film have named 20 finalists this year, up from the usual 15.
That’s a real stamp of approval considering the calibre of the judges: Collin Farrell, Miranda Otto, directors Gregor Jordan and Robert Luketic, casting director Ann Fay (Anzac Girls, Packed to the Rafters) and Randi Hiller, VP of feature casting at Walt Disney Studios.
The winner of the sixth annual scholarship, which fosters the education and career development of young Australian actors in the US, will be announced in Los Angeles on June 12.
The prizes include $10,000 cash, a two year scholarship at Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles, two return flights to LA including attendance at the announcement ceremony and a second flight when he or she is ready to break into the market, a 10-day California trip and $5,000 worth of visa and immigration services.
The winner will also receive mentorship from professionals in the industry such as manager Rob Marsala and agent Steve Alexander at Resolution; personal mentoring from Heath Ledger’s father Kim Ledger, who is patron of the scholarship; and access to the wider AiF network including Stella Adler executive director John Jack Rodgers, who provides a regular mentoring program with Stella alumni including Gary Ross, Mark Ruffalo and Benicio Del Toro.
Two runners up will each get a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles where they can raise their profiles in the US and network to gain opportunities to further their careers.
The 2014 finalists are: Dominic Allburn (Jack Irish: Dead Point), Natasha Bassett (Mental), Charlotte Best (Is This The Real World), Matilda Brown (Rake), Tilda Cobham-Hervey (52 Tuesdays), Matthew Connell (The Boy Castaways), Jared Daperis (The Cup), Maeve Dermody (Beautiful Kate), Abby Earl (A Place to Call Home), Cody Fern (The Last Time I Saw Richard), Laurence Fuller (Mother and Brother), Catherine Mack (Home and Away), Jerome Meyer (Cat), Tim Pocock (Camp), Millie Samuels (Around the Block), Lizzie Schebesta (Underbelly), Toby Wallace (Lucky Country), Axle Whitehead (Home and Away), Alex Williams (Underground: The Julian Assange Story) and Remy Hii (Neighbours).
The scholarship was established in 2008 in honour of the late Academy Award® winner Heath Ledger. Previous recipients are Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Ryan Corr, (Wolf Creek 2) Oliver Ackland (The Slap, Cloudstreet), Anna McGahan (House Husbands) and most recently, James Mackay (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark).
Kim Ledger said: “In this, the sixth remarkable year of the Australians in Film Heath Ledger Scholarship, I am so pleased to know there have been hundreds of entrants and the quality of these so extraordinary, the judges have decided to announce 20 finalists. Thank you to all who entered this year and special congratulations to the finalists in the lead up to this year’s winner.”
AiF president Tracey Vieira said, “This year we had an overwhelming response of incredibly talented applicants, increasing our finalist numbers to five more than in past years. On behalf of Australians in Film and all of our partners, I would like to congratulate each finalist and applaud them for their talent and passion for their craft.”
Founding benefactors of the Heath Ledger Scholarship include Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Michelle Williams, Phil Noyce, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.