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Heath Ledger Scholarship: RECIPIENT ANNOUNCED

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At Mr C Beverly Hills in Los Angeles on June 1, 2016, Ashleigh Cummings was announced the winner of the prestigious 2016 HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP and Harley Bonner and Sara West were named the runners up.

Heath’s father, Kim Ledger, patron of the scholarship, said “We understand the judges found it extremely difficult to make final selections this year. On behalf of Heath's family and Australian's in Film please accept our warmest congratulations and best wishes for greater success going forward.”

AACTA Award winning actress, Abbie Cornish (Limitless, Bright Star, Sucker Punch) who joined the judging committee for the first time this year, said, “Each of the twelve finalists are uniquely gifted and showcase the very best talent emerging from Australia today. They are all certain to have exciting, rewarding careers ahead. Ultimately, the quality of Ashleigh’s work to-date combined with her single-minded approach to fulfilling her acting potential made her the worthy recipient of this year’s award. We are all excited about the impact that winning this award will have on Ashleigh’s career and are eager to see the future work of runners up Harley and Sara.”

Of her win, Cummings said "Heath has, and will always be, a powerful source of inspiration to me, so to receive this award is inordinately humbling. I'd like to sincerely thank AiF and the beautiful Ledger family for supporting young artists in our passionate endeavours to continue in Heath's wake; hopefully making waves in both professional and personal realms, as he did. That is certainly my mission; and my path is immediately more fertile with the opportunities provided by the Scholarship. My deepest 'thanks' just doesn't match the monumental gratitude I feel!”


Judges for 2016 include:

  • Oscar nominated Actress Toni Collette (United States of Tara, The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding)
  • AACTA winning Actress Abbie Cornish (Limitless, Bright Star, Sucker Punch)
  • Head of Casting for Paramount Pictures, Joseph Middleton (Donnie Darko, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, American Pie)
  • Producer Basil Iwanyk (The Town, Gods of Egypt, Sicario)
  • Emmy nominated Casting Director Sherry Thomas (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul)
  • AACTA winning Director Phillip Noyce (Salt, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Bone Collector)

"I am happy to be involved in this initiative," said judge Toni Collette. "I liked heath very much and this scholarship in his name is a wonderful way of allowing new Australian talent to evolve."

Scholarship Prize

The Scholarship prize each year offers invaluable assistance for an emerging Australian actor attempting to break into Hollywood. This year Cummings receives a USD$10,000 cash fund; a two year scholarship at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles; two flights, one to attend the announcement ceremony and a second flight when she is ready to transition her career to the United States, a 7-day Californian trip from Visit California, USD$5,000 worth of visa and immigration services from Raynor and Associates and $500 worth of Uber credit to get around LA.

The Scholarship also includes mentorship from heavyweight professionals in the industry including six sessions (private coaching and on set) with renowned dialect coach, Joy Ellison - who coached Heath Ledger on Brokeback Mountain,The Dark Knight and I'm Not There and meetings with casting titans, Joseph Middleton (one of this year’s judges & Head of Casting for Paramount Pictures), casting directors, Joanna Colbert (Argo, Batman vs Superman, The Town, Syriana, Suckerpunch) and Barbara McCarthy (The Spectacular Now and Celeste and Jessie Forever), and Lora Kennedy (EVP Features Casting at Warner Bros.). Also included is a six-month scholarship to attend the prestigious Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Los Angeles.

Bonner and West will receive a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles, where they can profile themselves in the U.S. market and a scholarship to attend Masterclasses at Screenwise Film & TV School for actors in Sydney.

Pictured Kate Ledger, Matt Levett and Sally Bell, Heath's mother


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 and Nicole Kidman

Winner of the Scholarship last year, Matt Levett said: “It was a great honour to be awarded the Heath Ledger Scholarship and then be granted the many opportunities and doors it has opened. I am truly thankful and indebted to the generous benefactors, including the incredible Ledger family and AiF for their help and guidance.” Since receiving the Scholarship, Levett has been cast in the Wolf Creek TV series, which is screening on streaming service Stan.

Previous recipients have included

JAMES MACKAY The Dressmaker, and upcoming Mel Gibson directed Hacksaw Ridge and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.



 RYAN CORR - The Water Diviner, Holding the Man, will also be seen in Hacksaw Ridge and has just begun a season at Sydney Theatre Company in the highly anticipated Arcadia.


BELLA HEATHCOTE - Dark Shadows, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, recently cast in 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 - Anzac Girls, House Husbands, upcoming in the very popular ABC series The Doctor Blake Mysteries.


MATT LEVETT - (Drown, Adore), who will next be seen in the TV series Wolf Creek.

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