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Australians in Film is proud to name CODY FERN as the winner of the 6th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship. AiF announced the news at a fundraising dinner on June 12, 2014 at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. 

The scholarship- established in 2008 in memory of Australian actor Heath Ledger, who served as an ambassador for AiF-includes:
  • $10,000 cash fund
  • Two return flights to Los Angeles on Virgin Australia, the exclusive airline of the scholarship; including attendance at the announcement ceremony and a second flight when Fern is ready to break the market in LA
  • A two year scholarship at Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in LA
  • A 10-day California trip from Visit California
  • $5,000 worth of Visa and Immigration services from Raynor & Associates
  • and complimentary lifetime membership to StarNow.

It also includes mentorship from professionals in the industry; for example Manager Rob Marsala and Agent Steve Alexander at Resolution, personal mentoring from Heath Ledger’s father, Kim Ledger, who is patron of the scholarship. It also gives the recipient access to the wider AiF network including Stella Adler Executive Director John Jack Rodgers who provides a regular mentoring program with Stella alumni including Gary Ross, Mark Ruffalo and Benicio Del Toro.

“It's hard to put into words just how deeply honored I am to be receiving the Heath Ledger Scholarship, not just for the invaluable support it offers in my career, but also for what it means to me personally,” said Fern. 

“Growing up in a small country town, Heath's journey from Perth to Hollywood acts as an inspiration for me, always fueling my passion and reminding me to dream big. I am so grateful to the Ledger family and Australians in Film for affording me this incredible opportunity.”

The two runners up, Charlotte Best and Axle Whitehead 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.

“Congratulations to Charlotte and Axle as Runners Up in a super amazing field of applicants. We were so excited by the sheer numbers across such a broad range of talent, in every sense,” said patron of the scholarship, Kim Ledger. “To the final winner, Cody Fern, we have no doubt you will gently lift the mantle from James and project forward your fabulous talent in Heath's good name, and go on to carve a place in film history."

Chosen from a group of 20 finalists, Fern was born and raised in Southern Cross, a small mining town in the outback of Western Australia.  He was the first in his entire family's history to attend University, achieving Honors Status with a Double Major for his Bachelors Degree in Commerce. Leaving the world of commerce behind to pursue his acting career in Sydney, he has since performed in a number of Professionally lauded plays, most notably: Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare WA) and Albert in the globally acclaimed National Theatre of Great Britain'sWar Horse. He played Richard in The Last Time I Saw Richard, a multiple award winning short film, most recently receiving an Australian Oscar. Cody has trained with world renowned actors, directors and practitioners, including: Ellen Burstyn, Susan Batson and Elizabeth Kemp, all of the famed Actors Studio; as well as Ivana Chubbuck, Larry Moss and Howard Fine. He is about to undertake a new Bachelors degree in Psychology and Literature and is in the process of completing his first novel.

Charlotte Best was born on the Central Coast and has been acting, singing & dancing for as long as she can remember. She has been working in the industry from an early age, known for her roles in Home & Away, Puberty Blues, Breathe & feature film Is this the real world. Best is shortly to begin working on her second Australian film, Teenage Kicks. 

Born in Melbourne, Axle Whitehead grew up on his family's farm in country Victoria. While his dad toiled in the fields, his mother would drag Axle and his two older brothers out to live music shows and at home, someone would always be playing music somewhere. The sounds of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon or Creedence Clearwater were never far away. Axle eventually moved back to Melbourne to attend the prestigious VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) to study music and in 2003, he came to prominence as a contestant on the first series of Australian Idol (reaching the final 20). After being spotted on Idol, Network Ten hired him to front the television music show, Video Hits. Video Hits was, and still is, the highest-rated music show on Australian TV and it gave Axle the opportunity to travel the world and interview the likes of Justin Timberlake, Oasis and Duran Duran. In 2009, Axle discovered another passion and joined the cast of Home and Away as rocker Liam Murphy, who created some waves in Summer Bay.

The 2014 finalists are: Dominic Allburn (Jack Irish: Dead Point)Natasha Bassett (Mental)Charlotte Best (Is This The Real World)Matilda Brown(Rake)Tilda Cobham-Hervey (52 Tuesdays)Matthew Connell (The Boy Castaways)Jared Daperis (The Cup)Maeve Dermody (Beautiful Kate)Abby Earl (A Place to Call Home)Cody Fern (The Last Time I Saw Richard)Laurence Fuller (Mother and Brother)Remy Hii (Neighbours), Catherine Mack(Home and Away)Jerome Meyer (Cat)Tim Pocock (Camp)Millie Samuels (Around the Block)Lizzie Schebesta (Underbelly)Toby Wallace (Lucky Country), Axle Whitehead (Home and Away), and Alex Williams (Underground: The Julian Assange Story).

Past Winners

Previous recipients of the Scholarship are: 
Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Ryan Corr (Wolf Creek 2), 
Oliver Ackland (The Slap, Cloudstreet), Anna McGahan (House Husbands
and James Mackay (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark).

The 2014 Scholarship judges span across the entertainment industry and included:
 actors Colin Farrell (Total Recall), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings) and Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), directors Gregor Jordan (Two HandsNed Kelly) and Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde), Australian-based casting director Ann Fay (Anzac GirlsPacked to the Rafters) and Vice President of Feature Casting at Walt Disney Studios, Randi Hiller (The AvengersIronman 2).

Founding Benefactors of the Heath Ledger Scholarship include
 Nicole KidmanNaomi WattsHugh JackmanDeborra-Lee FurnessMichelle WilliamsPhil NoyceBaz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.






The Heath Ledger Scholarship relies on the annual support of individuals, corporations and friends of Heath who contribute each year. 
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Founded in May 2001, in celebration and support of Australian film and television artists and their work, the Los Angeles based non-profit organization holds regular screenings, seminars and labs, and currently has over 500 members. For further information please visit


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