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Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:00 AM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)

Headlining the list of judges for 2017 are: Naomi Watts (Birdman, The Impossible, 21 Grams and Mulholland Drive), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Sid & Nancy), Emmy, Peabody, and Golden Globe award-winning executive producer, writer and director, Ryan Murphy (Feud, American Crime Story, Glee, American Horror Story); producer Bruna Papandrea (Gone Girl, Wild, Big Little Lies and upcoming The Nightingale); Oscar-winning producer Emile Sherman (The Kings Speech, Lion, Top of the Lake and upcoming Mary Magdalene); executive producer, director, writer Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry, Stop- Loss, Carrie and upcoming Jill Soloway's series I Love Dick); director Gregor Jordon (Two Hands, Ned Kelly and the upcoming Tim Winton's Dirt Music), actress Jacqueline McKenzie (The Water Diviner, Without a Trace, NCIS: Los Angeles) and EVP Feature Casting, 20th Century Fox Ronna Kress (Deadpool, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pirates of Caribbean).

'Heath Ledger was one of the top actors of his generation. I am grateful and honored to be asked by AiF and the Ledger family to be on the judging panel for this year's scholarship. I am excited to see some of the new and remarkable young acting talent coming out of Australia right now', commented Ryan Murphy. 

It was also announced that Susie Dobson, the founder of the scholarship and casting director Ann Fay, one of the original judges, would join Kim Ledger as Official Patrons of the scholarship. 

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.

This year the recipient will be awarded a complete package of education, training, living and lifestyle support which includes  two return Qantas economy airfares from Australia to Los Angeles, a USD$10,000 cash fund, $5,000 rent assistance in Los Angeles, a $1,000 LA ride-sharing app credit, VIP tickets to film festivals in Los Angeles and California, a 7-day Californian trip from Visit California, group acting classes and personal coaching from Lisa Robertson Acting Studio and Nancy Banks, immigration services from Kate Raynor Associates, business management and US/Australian taxation advice from Protea Group International, Kitchen package from Breville, AiF membership including access to the creative workspace, Charlie's + Creative Collective at Raleigh Studios, personal mentoring from HLS Chair Felicity Price and committee member Damon Herriman, yoga classes from Yogaworks and gym classes from Trainingmate.

Kate Ledger, sister of Heath and AiF Board member added: “The objective of the scholarship is to ‘smooth the way’ and ‘open doors’ allowing the recipient to focus all their energy and efforts on getting work.” “It’s such a thrill to diversify casting in Hollywood and we encourage everyone to apply”.

Applications are open until Tuesday 4th April at 6pm (PST) 

The 2017 Australians in Film Heath Ledger Scholarship Presenting Partners are: Qantas, Visit California, AusFilm, Screenwise Film TV School for Actors and NIXCo.

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, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Nicole Kidman.


Qantas is Australia's largest domestic and international airline connecting Australians to the world in comfort, style and ease. It is widely regarded as one of the world's most respected full-service airlines and one of the strongest brands in Australia, with an outstanding reputation for excellence in safety, customer service, operational efficiency and technical innovation. The Qantas network spans 46 countries across Australia, Asia and the Pacific, the Americas, Europe and Africa. The US is one of Qantas's most popular routes, with its first Trans-Pacific flight taking place in 1954 to San Francisco.


Visit California is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs in partnership with the state's travel industry that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to Visit California, travel and tourism expenditures total $106.4 billion annually in California, support jobs for 917,000 Californians and generate $6.6 billion in state and local tax revenues. 


Screenwise - Australia's Leading Film TV School for Actors - provides specialist, career-focused training in acting for the screen by employing the creme de la creme of industry professionals - award-winning actors, directors casting consultants who are articulate and inspirational teachers. Overseen by Denise Roberts, Screenwise offers full-time and part-time intensive creative and technical screen acting programs which are up-to-date with Australian and International film industry standards. Screenwise continues to be at the forefront of acting education nationally and internationally offering the very best the industry has to offer. The school is committed to producing Screen Actors of the highest international calibre who understand the importance of their profession and the responsibility that comes with it. 


Ausfilm promotes Australia's Federal Screen Production Incentive Scheme, locations and capabilities to assist international filmmakers and studios to make their productions in Australia. Ausfilm is an Australian industry-government partnership. It comprises Australia's federal and state governments, the major studios, production service providers and leading post, sound, music and visual effects facilities. Ausfilm has offices in Los Angeles and Sydney. For more information visit 


NIXCo is Australia's leading independent film and entertainment PR agency, established in 1998 by company director Fiona Nix. With Fiona at the helm and over 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry, the NIXCo team provide a broad range of professional public relations services to a wide spectrum of clients including Australian and international film, home entertainment and television production companies and distributors. The team also maximise the impact of events in the media landscape and offer discreet media management for talent, government bodies and corporations when it is needed. Providing individually tailored campaigns, NIXCo has vast experience in all elements of publicity, promotions and marketing and most recently, has moved to create engaging campaigns in the digital media space. For more information, email:

Australians in Film
Raleigh Studios
5300 Melrose Avenue
Suite #B211, Bronson Bldg 
Hollywood, CA 90038

Phone: 323 433 1464

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