Australians in Film, the L.A.-based organization for ex-pat Australians in the entertainment industry, has established the Heath Ledger Scholarship Fund, to be given annually to a young Australian-based actor to help them pursue a career in Hollywood.
The scholarship fund in Ledger’s name (he was an AIF ambassador before his death in January) has the full support of Ledger’s family. Gregor Jordan, a longtime friend of Heath’s who directed the young actor in "Ned Kelly" and "Two Hands," will read statements of support from Heath’s family at AIF’s 4th annual Breakthrough Awards on June 5.
The Breakthrough Awards will be held at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. Mira Wasikowska (HBO’s "In Treatment") and Abbie Cornish ("Stop Loss"), who starred with Ledger in "Candy" (2006), will receive the awards, Golden Boomerangs, that night.
Ironically, long before AIF was founded, Susie Dobson, AIF president, met Heath Ledger at the Avalon during an Instyle party in 2000.
"Someone told me that there was a young and very, very shy Australian actor sitting on a couch by himself, and they suggested I go over and talk to him and try to make him feel at home," Dobson recalls. "It was Heath Ledger, and he was here to promote his first big U.S. film, ‘The Patriot,’ with Mel Gibson. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and was incredibly sweet, shy and soft-spoken."
Heath was already broken completely through and had become a major movie star by the time the Breakthrough Awards began. But he would definitely have approved of the scholarship and the awards which will be given out on June 5.
“We’re so pleased to recognize the efforts and talents of Australia’s newest faces who are already proving they are on their way to join the ranks of the high-profile Australian talent working in Hollywood,” comments Dobson. “We are also thrilled that, through Heath’s scholarship, we will be able to assist burgeoning Australian talent launch their careers in the U.S. to become potential future recipients of a Breakthrough Award.”