Heath Ledger Scholarship Award Given to Australian Actor James Mackay

The prize was presented at the fifth annual fundraising dinner of Australians in Film.

Actor James Mackay, who will be seen in Roland Joffe’s upcoming film Singularity, is the 2013 winner of the Heath Ledger Scholarship Award. The prize was awarded by Australians in Film, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that serves as an industry guild for Australian filmmakers and performers in the U.S., at its fifth annual fundraising dinner held Wednesday night.

The scholarship -- established in memory of actor Heath Ledger, who served as an ambassador for the organization -- includes a return flight to Los Angeles on Virgin Australia, a 10-day California trip from Visit California, one year of acting classes at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre, a VIP casting package and $10,000 cash, to help young Australians establish themselves in the heart of the entertainment industry.

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Kim Ledger, Heath Ledger’s father, is assuming the role of the organization’s patron. “Making a start in entertainment can be a tough and unforgiving business in any country,” he says. “I hope continuing this award, with its consequential connections, offers the final recipient a little extra support in their pathway to success." 

Mackay, a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Perth and a founding member of the Cry Havoc Theatre Company in Sydney, was chosen from 15 finalists. The 28-year old actor has appeared in the company’s contemporary adaptation of Julius Caesar and in such films as Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce.

The runners-up are Will Howarth and Georgia Flood, who will receive round-trip airfare to L.A., as well as a VIP casting package. Other finalists include Hannah Barlow, Elizabeth Blakemore, Laura Brent, David Coussins, Ashleigh Cummings, Geraldine Hakewill, Reef Ireland, Kate Jenkinson, Andrew Hazzard, Andrew Lees, Bob Morley and Alex Williams

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Previous recipients of the scholarship include Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Ryan Corr (Not Suitable for Children), Oliver Ackland (The Slap, Cloudstreet) and Anna McGahan (House Husbands). Benefactors of the program include the  Ledger  family,  Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Alex O’Loughlin, Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phil Noyce and Baz Luhrmann.

The 2013 judging panel consisted of Wes Bentley, Ann Fay, Gregor Jordan, Leslee Feldman, Will Ward, Nikki Barrett, Kieran Darcy-Smith and Steve Alexander.