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Watch Heath Ledger Scholarship recipient Mojean Aria's moving acceptance speech

Last Thursday at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood, Mojean Aria was announced as the 9th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship recipient, in front of the Ledger family, VIP guests and the other finalists, who had flown in for the first time in the award's history, thanks to Qantas.

In a beautiful and touching speech, which has since been exclusively released by ETonline, Aria recounts meeting Heath Ledger as a small child (after sneaking into a cinema at Fox Studios), and growing up as the son of an Iranian immigrant in Australia. Aria paid tribute to his mother who sacrificed and worked hard to pave the way for her family.

Mojean Aria (center) with Kim Ledger, Kate Marks, Kate Ledger, Sally Bell, 

Ashleigh Bell and Simonne Overend

As an Industry Member of Australians in Film since 2015, Aria also added, "Being a member (of Australians in Film) has not only broadened my social group, but the programs they put together, like the Writer's Room I'm currently a part of, are great opportunities to connect with other creatives and find those you can collaborate with. In short, AiF is a welcoming island in the middle of what at times can be a crazy sea." 


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2017 marks the third year the talented Sydney born, Los Angeles-based actor has applied, and been short-listed for the prestigious scholarship. In 2016 Aria played Jake LaMotta, the lead in The Bronx Bull, a part first made famous by Robert De Niro in the classic Raging Bull. The film is based on the story of the legendary boxing champion.

 Carrie, I LOVE Dick, Boys Don't Cry Director and one of this year's judges, Kimberly Peirce: "I've long been a fan of the extraordinary talent coming out of Australia and always look to Australia when I cast TV and film, having cast Abbie Cornish in her first US role! [And I taught at NIDA]. It was an incredible experience and a great privilege watching all these stunning young Australian actors. Mojean's work is rich, nuanced, precise, beautiful, authentic, emotive and fierce. I hope the scholarship provides him the necessary support and tools to explore his talent and interests, develop his craft and further his career here in Hollywood and wherever it takes him."

 Aria will obtain a USD$10,000 cash fund, private acting tuition from the Lisa Robertson Studio, and the Nancy Banks Acting Studio, 2 Qantas return flights to LA, a 7-day Californian trip from Visit California, USD$5,000 worth of visa and immigration services from Raynor and Associates, Business Management and Australian/US Taxation advice from the Protea Group, US$5,000 rent assistance, and USD$1,000 transportation credit to get around LA. The Scholarship also includes mentorship from professionals in the industry and a lifestyle package (Breville Kitchen Package, Training Mate gift card, Yoga Works 3 month voucher and more). 

This year's judging panel included Naomi Watts (Actor: Birdman, The Impossible, King Kong), Ryan Murphy (Writer|Producer|Director: Feud, American Horror Story, Glee,) Gary Oldman (Actor: The Dark Knight Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Bruna Papandrea (Producer: Big Little Lies, Wild, Gone Girl) Kimberly Peirce (Director: Carrie, Boys Don't Cry), Emile Sherman (Producer: Lion, The King's Speech), Jacqueline McKenzie (Actor: The Water Diviner, Desperate Housewives), Gregor Jordan (Director: Two Hands, Ned Kelly) and Ronna Kress (Casting Director: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Fault in Our Stars, Deadpool). 



Your generous donation will go directly towards the education 

and career development of emerging Australian talent and the future of Australian cinema.

Please submit your contribution via one of the PayPal buttons below.* 
You do not require a PayPal account to contribute.
The Heath Ledger Scholarship relies on the annual support of individuals, 
corporations and friends of Heath who contribute each year.
Benefactors to the program include the Ledger family, Michelle Williams, 
Rose Byrne, Vince Vaughn, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Liam Hemsworth,
Alex O'Loughlin, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phil Noyce, Baz Luhrmann,
Catherine Martin,Gregor Jordan & Nicole Kidman

Checks can be made out to The Australians in Film Foundation. 
Mailed to: Australians in Film - Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles CA 90038

Contact the Australians in Film Foundation

Thank you for your support!

*Your donations to the Australians in Film Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, are deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. TAX ID: #462776007

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, $250,000 in Scholarship prizes has been awarded to help the winners with career and educational opportunities in the U.S.

Scholarship Prize

With the support our Presenting Partners, Qantas, Visit California, Ausfilm and Screenwise Film & TV School for Actors, the recipient will receive

  • Two return Qantas economy airfares from Australia to Los Angeles
  • Visit Californian 7 Day Californian trip
  • US$10,000 towards a living allowance in Los Angeles
  • US$5,000 rent assistance in Los Angeles
  • US$1,000 ride-sharing app credit to be used in Los Angeles
  • Group Acting classes and personal coaching from Lisa Robertson Studio and Nancy Banks Studio
  • Immigration services from Kate Raynor & Associates
  • Business management and US|Australian taxation advice from Protea Group International
  • Kitchen appliance package, including Juice Fountain Elite, Barista Express, Smart Oven Pro and Boss Blender from Breville
  • Yoga classes from YogaWorks
  • Gym classes from Training Mate
  • VIP tickets to Palm Springs International Film Festival & AFI Fest
  • AiF membership, which includes access to the creative workspaces, Charlie's + Creative Collective at Raleigh Studios
  • Personal mentoring by Heath Ledger Scholarship Chair Felicity Price and Committee Member Damon Herriman
  • Other vouchers from Alfred's Coffee, The Den Meditation and Cinespia, plus more to be announced.

Benefactors to the program include the 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 and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.


Last year's winner Ashleigh Cummings will be seen in the upcoming feature Pork Pie, to be released by Studiocanal on 4th May in Australia.

Previous recipients have included

MATT LEVETT - A Place to Call HomeWolf Creek TV series, Devil's Playground and The Secret Daughter.

JAMES MACKAY - Upcoming DynastyThe Dressmaker, Hacksaw Ridge and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

 RYAN CORR - Upcoming Mary Magdalene, The Water Diviner, Holding the Man, Hacksaw Ridge and a season at the Sydney Theatre Company in Arcadia.

BELLA HEATHCOTE - Dark Shadows, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and 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 - Logie Award nominee who has just been announced to star in the remark of the iconic Picnic at Hanging RockAnzac Girls, House Husbands, The Doctor Blake Mysteries.


As in previous years, the 2017 judging panel will comprise influential actors, casting agents and industry executives. Past judges have included actors Toni Collette, Abbie Cornish, Colin Farrell, Miranda Otto, Vince Vaughn, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Rachel Griffiths, Ben Mendelsohn and Wes Bentley, producer Basil Iwanyk, head of casting at Paramount Joseph Middleton, directors Phillip Noyce, Gregor Jordan, Catherine Hardwicke and Kieran Darcy-Smith, Head of Casting at DreamWorks Leslee Feldman, talent manager Will Ward, casting directors Nikki Barrett, Sherry Thomas and Laray Mayfield, talent agent Steve Alexander, Vice President of Feature Casting at Walt Disney Studios Randi Hiller, and former Warner Bros. President of Production Greg Silverman.

Applications for the 9th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship are now CLOSED. 

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Australians in Film 2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship 

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