Australians in Film have named this year’s finalists for the coveted Heath Ledger Scholarship.
Speaking live on Instagram this morning, Australian actor and 2018 HLS Ambassador Eka Darville (Jessica Jones, Empire) announced that Aaron Glenane (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Danger Close), Bethany Whitmore (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Girl Asleep), Charmaine Bingwa (Little Sista, upcoming Nekrotronic), Kipan Rothbury (Significant Strangers), Brenna Harding (Puberty Blues, Black Mirror), Ezekiel Simat (High Life, upcoming Lambs of Gods), Shalom Brune-Franklin (Doctor Doctor, Thor: Ragnarok), Nicholas Denton (Glitch), Harvey Zielinski (Starting from… Now) and Gemma Bird Matheson (Neighbours) are on the shortlist.
The winner, who will be announced on Thursday, September 20 at LA’s Chateau Marmont, will receive a support and development package valued at US$30,000.
“The submissions this year have set the bar at a whole new level and our call for diversity has been heard loud and clear,” Darville said. “So thank you to all who applied! We’ve seen so many faces that haven’t submitted before and received a record number of submissions. The unenviable job of picking a winner from our stellar lineup of finalists now rests in the hands of our all-star judges.”
This year’s judging panel includes Rose Byrne (Peter Rabbit, Bridesmaids, Two Hands); Academy Award-winning actor, writer and producer Matt Damon (The Martian, The Bourne Identity series, Good Will Hunting); Australian actress Naomi Watts (Birdman, 21 Grams, Mulholland Drive); Australian director Gregor Jordan (Two Hands, Ned Kelly); U.S. film and TV producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers franchise, Batman); Emmy-nominated director Jeremy Podeswa (The Handmaid’s Tale, Game of Thrones); Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki (The Kettering Incident, The Night Manager); and casting directors Carmen Cuba (Stranger Things, Alien: Covenant, Magic Mike XXL), Kirsty McGregor (Lion, Top of the Lake), Amanda Mitchell (The Code, Marco Polo), Jason Wood (A&E Networks), Barbara McCarthy (The Kennedys); and Ann Fay, Patron of the HLS.
Established in 2008 in memory of Australian actor Heath Ledger, who served as an ambassador for the organisation, the Scholarship is awarded to an actor who exhibits distinctive and unique potential. To date, $280,000 in Scholarship prizes has been awarded. Previous winners include Mojean Aria (Dead Lucky, The Bronx Bull), Cody Fern (American Crime Story: Versace, American Horror Story: Apocalypse ), Ashleigh Cummings (Hounds of Love, The Miss Fisher Mysteries), and Bella Heathcote (Strange Angel, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women).
This year’s scholarship package includes:
- US$10,000 towards a living allowance, rent and transport assistance in Los Angeles, supported by Screenwise – Australia’s Leading Film and TV School for Actors.
- Two round-trip Qantas economy airfares from Australia to Los Angeles
- Group Acting classes and personal coaching from Lisa Robertson Studio
- Movement and Voice classes with Kennedy Brown
- Dialect coaching with Joy Ellison
- Group acting classes from Nancy Banks Studio
- Group acting classes and personal coaching from Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Kristof Konrad at Alexander Techworks
- Private acting classes from Gulu Monteiro
- Immigration services from Kate Raynor & Associates
- Reel editing by Top LA editor Darwin Serink
- Headshot Sessions from Sally Flegg Photography
- Hair and Makeup styling for headshot sessions by Sophia Lee
- Gym classes from Training Mate
- Dinner + Medallion from EP & LP
- Hair Styling by Hello Darling Salon
- Lifetime AiF membership, which includes access to the creative workspaces, Charlie’s at Raleigh Studios, including invitations to exclusive AiF Events such as The Australian Oscar and Emmy Nominees Reception
- General meeting introductions to Hollywood Casting Directors.
- Mentoring by leading actors working in Hollywood.
“2018 saw a record number of applicants, and the judges agreed the standard was extremely high. Narrowing it down to just 10 was tricky, but following great deliberation and vigorous discussion, we have shortlisted an incredible lineup of Australian actors who reflect the amazing and diverse talent we have here in Australia,” said Kirsty McGregor, President of the Casting Guild of Australia and HLS10 Judge. “Our industry will only get stronger as we embrace, celebrate and support new talent and ensure the faces we see on our screens reflect our community. The finalists include actors from culturally diverse backgrounds and the LGBTQ community, including the very first transgender finalist. Congratulations all!”