Charmaine Bingwa Wins 10th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship
Hollywood's famous Chateau Marmont was overrun by Australian actors last night at presentation of the annual Heath Ledger Scholarship.
It's the 10th anniversary of the coveted award, which provides an actor who exhibits distinctive and unique potential everything they could need to launch a Hollywood career.
Heath's father Kim said that "an event like this allows us to deal with the whole process in another way, while giving back to the community, which is something Heath would have really loved".
Brenna Harding, who starred in Network Ten's Puberty Blues, was among the nominees. After recently working with Jodie Foster on Black Mirror, Harding said the actress hammered home the importance of education.
"What drew me to the scholarship was the opportunity to work with so many voice and movement experts, and dialect coaches in LA," Harding said. "I've never studied acting before, I never went to drama school, and I really want to learn."
Meanwhile, nominee Aaron Glenane saw LA as the place to be.
"Ever since a young age, I've been inspired by people who work at the top of their game and LA is the hub," he said. "Everyone seems to come here."
There were 800 applicants for the scholarship, which is judged by a select group including Rose Byrne, Matt Damon and Elizabeth Debicki.
Someone who has already done the hard yards is former Bold and the Beautiful star Ashleigh Brewer. "The best advice I was ever given is to stick around and be patient," she said. "Honestly, weathering the unemployment storm is what makes or breaks you, not the job."
And Heath's family is set to make even that part of the journey a little easier. When Heath first cracked Hollywood, he would open his home to Australian actors arriving to give it a go. Heath's father Kim wants to keep that tradition alive, and is raising money to build a place that would serve the same purpose.
"We're going to call it Heath's Hobbit," he said. "We'd like to build a home over here, probably 10 bedrooms, where actors can come and just lay around for a few months and get to know the lay of the land. It would just take the weight of living here off for a while, which is kind of what Heath did in his house."
This year's scholarship winner won't be needing that, though. Charmaine Bingwa is an Australian Zimbabwean actor who, like Heath, grew up in Western Australia.
“I heard the other day someone say that the most powerful currency you have is the impact you have on other people and I think Heath epitomises that," Bingwa said. "Heath personally taught me what the power of a performance can do."
Feature image: Getty Images