Screenwise grad Ashleigh Cummings has been awarded the hotly contested 2016 Heath Ledger Scholarship, which supports emerging Australian talent in the US. The Australians in Film Heath Ledger Scholarship sponsored by Screenwise was held June 1st in Los Angeles.
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!”
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 director, Joanna Colbert (Argo, Batman vs Superman, The Town, Syriana, Suckerpunch) 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.