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4/6/2015: MATT LEVETT WINS 2015 HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP

Matt Levett has been awarded the winner of the prestigious 2015 HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP, as announced at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Hollywood on Tuesday evening. Emilie Cocquerel and Lily Sullivan were named the runners up.

Matt Levett graduated from the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2009. Whilst at WAAPA he was awarded both the Sally Burton prize for Most Outstanding Performance in a Classical Text, and the Lesley Anderson award. Matt’s screen credits include the AACTA and Logie award winning Matchbox Pictures mini-series Devil’s Playground, lead in the critically acclaimed Australian feature Drown, Channel 7’s hugely popular A Place to Call Home, Home & Away, Two Twisted and All Saints. Matt directed the Tropfest Film Festival short Unwanted Friend and is a member of ScreenInkMedia, a collective of young filmmakers who have just completed their latest short Kid which Matt wrote and directed.

For the high calibre judging panel, the choice was not an easy one to make. Emmy award winning casting director, Laray Mayfield (Fight Club, Gone Girl, House of Cards, The Social Network), who joined the panel for the first time this year said, ‘It was inspiring to be on a judging panel where every person was passionate and invested in the result. The decision was not easy as each of the applicants are talented and unique and we are sure they will have long and lovely careers. Ultimately our decision was to award the scholarship to Matt Levett. We are all excited about watching his talent and career continue to grow and we are also looking forward to seeing the work the runners up Emilie Cocquerel and Lily Sullivan will do .”

Each year Heath’s father, Kim Ledger, contacts the winner of the scholarship to advise them that they have won. He said, “It is always such an exciting phone call to make because we know that the scholarship makes such an impact on a young performer’s career. For the seventh year, the scholarship has gone to a deserving recipient in Matt Levett. This is a wonderful initiative run by Australians in Film and we wish Matt every success.”

Of his win, Levett said, "I am humbled to have received this incredible gift. Working in this industry, I have realized success here is not something you can do on your own. The support this scholarship gives, allows me opportunities I could otherwise only imagine. The chance to tell stories on an international level would be a dream come true. I am deeply grateful to the Ledger family and AIF for their ongoing support and generosity towards Australian actors. To know you can travel halfway around the world and find a sense of community is a true testament to the work done by Australians in Film (AIF).”

Levett receives a USD$10,000 cash fund, a two year scholarship at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre in Los Angeles, he flew to Los Angeles flying Virgin Australia to attend the announcement ceremony and will receive a second flight when he is ready to transition 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 complimentary lifetime membership to StarNow. The scholarship also includes mentorship from professionals in the industry. Cocquerel and Sullivan will receive a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles courtesy of Virgin Australia where they can profile themselves in the US market and for the first time, they will also receive a scholarship to attend Masterclasses at Screenwise Film & TV School for actors in Sydney.

Simonne Overend, President of Australians in Film says; “We wish to congratulate Matt Levett for winning this year’s Heath Ledger Scholarship, and to acknowledge all the talented finalists including Emilie Cocquerel and Lily Sullivan. The high calibre of entrants this year is testimony to the amazing acting talent coming out of Australia and to the high regard with which the scholarship is perceived by the industry.”

Like Levett, Emilie Cocquerel also undertook the prestigious WAAPA acting program. At the end of her first year of study she attended a three-month exchange program with the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique de Paris (CNSAD) where she studied under renowned director Daniel Mesguish and Jean Damien-Barbin. While still studying at WAAPA, Rachel Ward cast and directed Emilie in the ABC tele-movie An Accidental Soldier. Emilie recently shot a small role in Lion opposite Rooney Mara and is currently on location shooting a role in Joe Cinque's Consolation, based on the novel by celebrated Australian writer, Helen Garner.

Lily Sullivan recently wrapped opposite Timothy Spall in Australian feature film Sucker, written by Lawrence Leung and to be released this year. She co-starred in Rhys Graham’s feature Galore, which was in competition at Berlin International Film Festival in 2013 and earned her a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ award at 2014 Cinema des Antipodes Saint-Tropez. Lily made her feature film debut in 2012 in P.J. Hogan’s Mental, opposite Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber and Anthony LaPaglia for which she earned an AACTA Award nomination for Best Young Actor and a Film Critics Circle of Australia Award nomination for Best Performance by a Young Actor.

The judges for the 2015 scholarship were Rose Byrne (Damages, The Internship, Bad Neighbours), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Dark Knight Rises), American actor, writer and producer Vince Vaughn (True Detective, The Internship, The Break-Up), executive producer Adam Schroeder (Zoolander, Sleepy Hollow, Clueless), directors Kieran Darcy-Smith (Wish You Were Here, By Way of Helena) and Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly, Two Hands), Australian-based casting director, Ann Fay (Anzac Girls, Packed to the Rafters) and Emmy award winning casting director, Laray Mayfield (Fight Club, Gone Girl, House of Cards, The Social Network).

Benefactors of the Heath Ledger Scholarship include Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, Rose Byrne, Alex O’Loughlin, Liam Hemsworth, Michelle Williams, Phil Noyce, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.

Australians in Film 2015 Heath Ledger Scholarship is sponsored by: Virgin Australia, Visit California, Screenwise Film & TV School for Actors, Ausfilm, Nixco and AiF’s agency of record, BIW.

THE OTHER HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP 2015 FINALISTS WERE:
Mojean Aria (The Bronx Bull, Aban and Khorsh
David Berry (A Place to Call Home)
Shareena Clanton (Wentworth)
Ashleigh Cummings (Puberty Blues, Gallipoli, Galore)
Taylor Ferguson (The Turning, Strangerland)
James Fraser (Devil’s Playground, Deadline Gallipoli, The Water Diviner)
Reef Ireland (Puberty Blues, Wentworth)
Joel Jackson (Deadline Gallipoli, Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Doo
Travis Jeffrey (Unbroken, Gallipoli)
Brandon McClelland (Anzac Girls)
Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood (A Place to Call Home)
Jordan Patrick Smith (Neighbours, Unbroken, Banished)
Adele Perovic (The Code)
TJ Power (Underbelly, The Sapphires, The Little Death)
Harry Richardson (Looking for Grace)
Millie Samuels (Neighbours, The Gods of Wheat Street, Alex and Eve)
Geraldine Viswanathan (Dysfunktion).

Reef Ireland, Ashleigh Cummings, Millie Samuels, James Fraser and TJ Power have all been Heath Ledger Scholarship finalists in previous years.

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