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Australians in Film is pleased to announce the finalists of the prestigious 2015 AiF HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP, which fosters the education and career development of emerging Australian actors within the United States. 

The recipients of the seventh annual scholarship, including a main prize winner and two runners up, will be announced on Monday, June 1st at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles, with the winner in attendance.


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 (Mental, Puberty Blues, Galore) and Geraldine Viswanathan (Dysfunktion). Reef Ireland, Ashleigh Cummings, Millie Samuels, James Fraser and TJ Power have all been Heath Ledger Scholarship finalists in previous years, which is testament to their talent and increasing profiles.

Since its inception in 2008, the HLS Finalists’ List has emerged as an important international and local industry reference tool for highlighting Australian talent to watch. The scholarship was established in honour of the late Academy Award® winner, Heath Ledger, and aims to provide a bridge for actors who have achieved a level of success in Australia, to establish themselves as working actors in the United States. It is an exciting and ultimately life-changing opportunity for the finalists, often boosting their profile with agents and managers in America and introducing them to a network of professionals who can support them throughout their career.


Check out what Heath Ledger Scholarship winners Cody Fern, James Mackay and Anna McGahan, and recent runner up, Charlotte Best, have to say about the scholarship: 

Scholarship Prize

The primary recipient will receive two return flights to Los Angeles on Virgin Australia; including attendance at the announcement ceremony and a second flight when they are ready to break the market in LA, a two year scholarship at Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles, a 7-day California trip from Visit California, $5,000 worth of Visa and Immigration services from Raynor & Associates, a complimentary lifetime membership to StarNow and $10,000 cash, affording the winner the opportunity to establish themselves in the heart of the entertainment industry. 

Two runners up will receive a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles courtesy of Virgin Australia where they can profile themselves in the US market and network to gain opportunities to further their careers internationally, and new for 2015, a scholarship to attend Masterclasses at Screenwise Film & TV School for actors in Sydney.

Kim Ledger, Heath’s father and Patron of the Heath Ledger Scholarship program said, “This is the seventh remarkable year of the Australians in Film Heath Ledger Scholarship and as with every year, the entries have been extraordinary. I want to personally wish everyone who has been selected as a finalist the very best of luck in the lead up to the awards.”

"I have been privileged to spend time with last year’s wonderful recipient Cody Fern and learn of his amazing new journey and wish the winner this year, a similar experience," Ledger added.

Previous Recipients

Previous recipients of the scholarship include 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).


Benefactors to the program include the Ledger family, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Alex O'Loughlin, Liam HemsworthHugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phil Noyce and Baz Luhrmann.

Cody Fern

Winner of the scholarship last year, Cody Fern stated, "The opportunities and support offered through the Heath Ledger Scholarship have been truly life changing, the benefits of which continue to have a profound impact on both my personal and professional life. It has been a privilege and a great honour to be part of such an incredible legacy and I cannot thank Australians in Film and the Ledger family enough."


Australians in Film (AiF) have garnered a stellar line up of judges to award this year’s AiF Heath Ledger Scholarship created to foster the education and career development of young Australian actors within the United States.

Participating on the judging panel are Australian actors Rose Byrne (Damages, The Internship, Neighbors) and Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Dark Knight Rises), American actor, writer and producer Vince Vaughn (True Detective, The Internship, The Break-Up), executive producer Adam Schroeder (Zoolander, Sleepy Hollow, Clueless), directors Kieran Darcy-Smith (Wish You Were Here, By Way of Helena) and Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly, Two Hands), Australian-based casting director, Ann Fay (Anzac Girls, Packed to the Rafters) and Emmy award winning casting director, Laray Mayfield (Fight Club, Gone Girl, House of Cards, The Social Network).

Some past judges have included actors Colin FarrellMiranda OttoJude LawRachel Griffiths and Wes Bentley, director Catherine Hardwicke, Head of Casting at Dreamworks, Leslee Feldman, manager Will Ward, casting director Nikki Barrett, talent agent Steve Alexander, Vice President of Feature Casting at Walt Disney Studios, Randi Hiller and Warner Bros. President of Production, Greg Silverman.

A message from our President

Australians in Film 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. 

Overend continues: “As the Scholarship is now in its seventh year, it has become something that the industry pays attention to, both in Australia and the USA. Each year, we garner more applications than the previous year and the judges have the difficult task of selecting an Australian actor with exceptional skill and passion for their craft, who wants to use the full benefits of the Scholarship to further their career and training in the United States. We look forward to hearing who the judges select as the winning recipient.”

Applications for the 7th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship are closed. 

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Information on the 2016 scholarship, including judging panel and criteria, will be made available next year.

Australians in Film 2015 Heath Ledger Scholarship

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