It has been nine year’s since Academy award winner actor Heath Ledger passed away in New York, but Heath’s family feels that the scholarship named in the great actor’s memory is wonderful legacy and a fitting tribute to his legendary kindness, generosity and creative spirit.
Speaking from Perth, Heath’s sister Kate Ledger, who joined the Australians in Film board last year says; “Honestly it still feels like yesterday for me, but I feel so passionate about the industry and helping Australian actors. Working closely with AiF has been a wonderfully cathartic experience for our whole family.”
Photo by Frances Andrijich
“Seeing the struggles that Heath went through in making the transition from Australia to the U.S. with his international career and knowing the generosity of spirit he always showed in wanting to help out his Aussie mates, it’s really important to us that we continue that legacy.”
Kate continues “It started really in an unofficial way with Heath helping out his fellow Aussie actors.”
“He was always so generous with sharing his success around – there were 30 keys to his house in Los Feliz, and everyone was welcome,” Kate recalls.
“He was really genuine in his desire to help his mates who he never thought of as rivals. He believed there was room for everyone and I just loved that about him.”
Australians in Film is continuing that tradition with the opening of Charlie’s and next month with the opening of the new member’s workspace The Creative Collective. “Australian actors coming to Los Angeles for pilot season can find the city very isolating and competitive, and AiF, following the lead of Heath’s generous spirit will be curating events and |screenings for its members to connect,” Kate says.
“I think that if there had been access to a network of industry people and contacts in the US at the time it would have been a great leg up for Heath” Kate says. “Leaving home at 17, driving across the Nullarbor to take that big leap into the acting world was gutsy enough, but then once establishing himself in Australia he then had to start all over again in the United States and that was a completely different ball game. It was such a monumental transition.”
“It’s amazing to meet these young actors that are so full of fire, energy and enthusiasm,” Kate says. “I remember the same qualities and traits in Heath when he was young. It’s exciting to watch their journeys and follow their careers.
On what it takes for a young actor to have career longevity in this competitive industry, Kate believes a number of very special qualities. “There are many aspiring actors around but it takes more than just talent. You have to be the complete package. “Presence, physicality, magnetism, and persistence”.
“One thing I distinctly remember about Heath is that his self belief never wavered,” Kate says.
“For a young emerging Australian actor, the Heath Ledger Scholarship is a great way to be introduced to Hollywood and the screen business.”
Applications for the 2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship are currently open and close on the date that was Heath’s birthday, 4 April 2017.
For more info and to apply visit http://www.australiansinfilm.org/heathledgerscholarship