Rising young actors who’ve appeared in Unbroken, The Water Diviner, Deadline Gallipoli, ANZAC Girls and The Code are among the finalists for the 7th annual Heath Ledger Scholarship.
In all 20 are in contention for the prize which includes two round-trip flights to L.A., a two-year scholarship at the Stella Adler Academy, $5,000 worth of visa and immigration services and $10,000 cash.
Presented by Australians in Film, the winner will be announced in Los Angeles on June 1. Two runners up will each receive a round-trip ticket to LA and a scholarship to attend masterclasses at Screenwise Film & TV School for actors in Sydney.
Previous recipients were Cody Fern (The Last Time I Saw Richard), James Mackay (The Dressmaker, The Tomorrow People), Anna McGahan (ANZAC Girls, House Husbands), Ryan Corr (The Water Diviner, Wolf Creek 2), Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows, The Rewrite) and Oliver Ackland (Party Tricks, Blinder).
The finalists were selected by a committee of managers and agents in Los Angeles. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges including Rose Byrne (Damages, The Internship, Bad Neighbours), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Dark Knight Rises), Vince Vaughn (True Detective, The Internship, The Break-Up), executive producer Adam Schroeder (Zoolander, Sleepy Hollow, Clueless) and directors Kieran Darcy-Smith (Wish You Were Here, By Way of Helena) and Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly, Two Hands).
Also on the panel are Australian-based casting director Ann Fay (ANZAC Girls, Packed to the Rafters) and US casting director Laray Mayfield (Gone Girl, House of Cards, The Social Network).
The 2015 finalists are: Mojean Aria (Hybrids), David Berry (A Place to Call Home), Shareena Clanton (Wentworth), Emilie Cocquerel (An Accidental Soldier), Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues, Gallipoli, Galore), Taylor Ferguson (The Turning, Strangerland), James Fraser (Devil’s Playground, Deadline Gallipoli, The Water Diviner), Reef Ireland (Puberty Blues, Wentworth), Joel Jackson (Deadline Gallipoli, Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door), Travis Jeffrey (Unbroken, Gallipoli), Matt Levett (A Place to Call Home, Devil’s Playground), Brandon McClelland (ANZAC Girls), Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood (A Place to Call Home), Jordan Patrick Smith (Neighbours, Unbroken, Banished), Adele Perovic (The Code), TJ Power (Underbelly, The Sapphires, The Little Death), Harry Richardson (Looking for Grace), Millie Samuels (The Gods of Wheat Street, Around the Block), Lily Sullivan (Puberty Blues, Galore) and Geraldine Viswanathan (Dysfunktion).
Ireland, Cummings, Samuels, Fraser and Power were Heath Ledger Scholarship finalists in previous years, which is testament to their talent and increasing profiles.
AiF President Simonne Overend said, “Not only do we have a fantastic line up of finalists, we’re so thrilled to have Ben Mendelsohn and Rose Byrne on board as judges this year. Rose and Heath were good friends; they starred together in Two Hands, which was written and directed by fellow judge Gregor Jordan. Our judges are pillars within the film and TV industry – writers, directors, producers, casting directors, actors – industry professions who have demonstrated success in their field, and we trust they will have a keen eye to find the next emerging Australian actor."