When Mojean Aria was asked to teach a week-long acting workshop for the Australian Institute of Performing Arts (AIPA), he agreed on one condition: they offer a free place to an aspiring young actor of Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) background.
As such, a scholarship has been established for one student (aged 12-20) from the MENA community to cover all meals, accommodation and classes during Aria’s six day, five-night residential masterclass next month.
Throughout the week, students will work with Aria – who stars with Jason Momoa in AppleTV’s See and will next be seen with Hugh Jackman in Lisa Joy’s Reminiscence – covering topics such as scene work and building a character. Industry professionals from the US will also Zoom in to give advice, guidance and feedback.
Of Iranian heritage, Aria pushed for the scholarship in order to spread awareness in the communities he grew up in that an acting career is a viable dream.
After studying at NIDA and Metro Screen, Aria left Australia when he was 20 to pursue acting as he felt there were few roles here for someone of his background. He returned in 2017 to star in SBS mini-series Dead Lucky, and later, Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close.
“When I was an acting student I was often the only one from an ethnic background and now, with so much of the film industry finally moving toward making films that better showcase our demographic reality, I feel it’s imperative that we are developing diverse talent. I’m excited and honoured to be a part of that back home in Australia and with AIPA,” the former recipient of the Heath Ledger Scholarship says.
Aria’s next project is Thief of Sleep, the saga of young, closeted gay man who faces persecution in Iran and flees to his distant family in Scotland. Currently in pre-production to shoot in 2021, Aria will both star, co-write and produce with Chelsea Winstanley (JoJo Rabbit) and Tommee May.
Earlier this year Aria also wrapped on Etienne Aurelius’ Hawaiian fantasy drama, Kapō, which he co-wrote and produced with Winstanley.
AIPA’s Marg Haynes said: “We are proud to support the scholarship and we encourage students from a MENA background to apply and attend. The week will open your eyes to opportunities you may not have considered, give you a purpose to strive and thrive and give you work that will allow you to be the next Mojean Aria.”
Anyone interested in applying for the scholarship should call AIPA on 0412 736 977 to register. Applicants will need to prepare a scene of their choice and shoot it on their phones, or alternatively, shoot a scene AIPA provides. There is no cost to apply, with applications to close December 13.
The Acting for Screen Masterclass runs December 19-22 in Stanwell Tops, south of Sydney. Participants also have the opportunity to attend as day students if preferred.
For other students wishing to enrol, go here. Places are limited.