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Australians in Film (AiF) has announced a number of judges for the Eighth Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship, which include an Academy Award nominated actress, the Head of Casting for Paramount Pictures, an AACTA winning director, the producer of The Town and Sicario and the TV casting director for Breaking Bad.

Applications for the Scholarship closed on Monday, 4 April (Heath’s Birthday) at 6PM PDT / Tuesday, April 5 at 11AM AEST.

The award will go to an exceptional young Australian actor, who possesses a rare and unique combination of talent and screen presence.


Judges for 2016 include:

  • Oscar nominated Actress Toni Collette (United States of Tara, The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding)
  • AACTA winning Actress Abbie Cornish (Limitless, Bright Star, Sucker Punch)
  • Head of Casting for Paramount Pictures, Joseph Middleton (Donnie Darko, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, American Pie)
  • Producer Basil Iwanyk (The Town, Gods of Egypt, Sicario)
  • Emmy nominated Casting Director Sherry Thomas (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul)
  • AACTA winning Director Phillip Noyce (Salt, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Bone Collector)

"I am happy to be involved in this initiative," said judge Toni Collette. "I liked heath very much and this scholarship in his name is a wonderful way of allowing new Australian talent to evolve."

Established in 2008 in memory of Australian actor Heath Ledger, who served as an ambassador for the organization, the Scholarship is open to all young and emerging Australian actors 18-35 years old. To date, $230,000 in Scholarship prizes has been awarded to help the winners with career and educational opportunities in the U.S.

The judge’s mission is to select a recipient that exhibits distinctive potential. “The Heath Ledger Scholarship is AiF’s flagship education program and represents everything the foundation stands for. This is a potentially life changing moment for a young actor and AiF is thrilled to be able to give this opportunity to someone,” said Simonne Overend, President of Australians in Film. "The incredible group of influential judges assembled to select this year’s scholarship’s recipient is a testament to the level of regard to which the scholarship is held in Hollywood,” she continues.

Kim Ledger, Heath’s father and Patron of the Scholarship has said, "We expect to hear from another group of fine applicants, and I encourage talented Aussies resident in either U.S. or Australia to support this excellent Australians in Film initiative.”

Scholarship Prize

Since the first call for submissions, AiF is pleased to announce exciting additions to the prize, which now includes six sessions (private coaching and on set) with renowned dialect coach, Joy Ellison - who coached Heath Ledger on Brokeback Mountain, The Dark Knight and I'm Not There. Of her contribution, Joy has said "Gratefully, I am honoured be a part of this ideal tribute to a man who was an enigmatic and talented friend. In nearly 30 years as a dialect coach, Australian actors have consistently been among my most hard working and dedicated clients, so it is with pleasure I look forward to working with the actor chosen for this award in his memory.” Her Australian clients include Chris Hemsworth, Eric Bana, Jack Thompson, Peta Wilson, Ryan Kwanten, Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, Sam Worthington, and Toni Collette.

Also added is a meeting with judge Joseph Middleton, who has kindly donated his time and expertise. Additionally, there is a six-month scholarship to attend the prestigious Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Los Angeles. Ms. Chubbuck’s students are well represented at the Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes, Tonys, and many international movie, television and theatre awards, such as Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron and Jake Gyllenhaal. She also has many Australian clients, including Isla Fisher, Poppy Montgomery and Travis Fimmel.

As previously announced, the recipient will also obtain a USD$10,000 cash fund, a two year scholarship at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles, two flights on Virgin Australia, one to attend the announcement ceremony and a second flight when the winner is ready to transition their career to the United States, a 7-day Californian trip from Visit California, USD$5,000 worth of visa and immigration services from Raynor and Associates and $500 worth of Uber credit to get around LA. The Scholarship also includes mentorship from professionals in the industry.

Two runners up will receive a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles, where they can profile themselves in the US market, courtesy of Virgin Australia, and a scholarship to attend Masterclasses at Screenwise Film & TV School for actors in Sydney.

Pictured Kate Ledger, Matt Levett and Sally Bell, Heath's mother


Benefactors to the program include the Ledger family, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Rose Byrne, Vince Vaughn, Liam Hemsworth, Alex O'Loughlin, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phillip Noyce, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gregor Jordan and Nicole Kidman

Winner of the Scholarship last year, Matt Levett said: “It was a great honour to be awarded the Heath Ledger Scholarship and then be granted the many opportunities and doors it has opened. I am truly thankful and indebted to the generous benefactors, including the incredible Ledger family and AiF for their help and guidance.” Since receiving the Scholarship, Levett has been cast in the Wolf Creek TV series, which is screening on streaming service Stan.

Previous recipients have included

JAMES MACKAY The Dressmaker, and upcoming Mel Gibson directed Hacksaw Ridge and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.



 RYAN CORR - The Water Diviner, Holding the Man, will also be seen in Hacksaw Ridge and has just begun a season at Sydney Theatre Company in the highly anticipated Arcadia.


BELLA HEATHCOTE - Dark Shadows, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, recently cast in Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to the box office record smashing Fifty Shades of Grey.



OLIVER ACKLAND - Wasted on the Young, The Proposition, and can currently be seen in the TV series The Originals.



CODY FERN - War Horse, The Last Time I Saw Richard, most recently cast in the Tribes of Palos Verdes opposite Jennifer Garner, and will also direct and star in Pisces, opposite Keir Gilchrist, produced by Nancy Grant.


ANNA MCGAHAN - Anzac Girls, House Husbands, upcoming in the very popular ABC series The Doctor Blake Mysteries.


MATT LEVETT - (Drown, Adore), who will next be seen in the TV series Wolf Creek.

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