Aust actors vie for Heath Ledger grant

Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


A talented and diverse group of young Australian actors have made the short-list for this year’s $US30,000 ($A41,000) Los Angeles-based Heath Ledger Scholarship.

The non-profit foundation behind the scholarship, Australians in Film, encouraged actors from diverse and under-represented communities to apply and the 10 contenders announced on Monday include the first transgender finalist, Harvey Zielinski.

The scholarship is in its 10th year and the winner will be selected by an A-List Hollywood panel of judges headed by Matt Damon, Naomi Watts, Rose Byrne and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

“Following great deliberation and vigorous discussion, we have short-listed an incredible line-up of Australian actors who reflect the amazing and diverse talent we have here in Australia,” Casting Guild of Australia president and scholarship judge Kirsty McGregor said.

Ledger was renowned for his desire to help young Australian actors make it in Hollywood and the scholarship is designed to keep the late Oscar winner’s goodwill alive.

The scholarship is backed by Ledger’s family and other members of Hollywood’s elite including Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams, Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Vince Vaughn, Liam Hemsworth, Alex O’Loughlin, Phillip Noyce, Catherine Martin, Baz Luhrmann, Byrne and Watts.

This year’s nominees include young actors familiar to Australian film and TV audiences.

The scholarship is presented by Australian winery Bird in Hand and the winner will receive a long list of prizes including $US10,000 from Screenwise towards a living allowance, rent and transport in LA, two round-trip economy airfares from Australia to LA, immigration services, reel editing, headshots, gym classes, hairstyling and acting, dialect, voice and movement classes from multiple studios.

The winner will be announced during a ceremony at LA’s iconic Chateau Marmont on September 20.


Zielinski (Starting from … Now)

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)

Gemma Bird Matheson (Neighbours).

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