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Heath Ledger Lives on Through Scholarships

Heath Ledger Lives on Through Scholarships
Seeing Heath Ledger’s name in the news still makes me shudder. I was such a fan of his work and just knew he was going to be one of those iconic actors of our generation. And sadly he was, but for all of the wrong reasons. Heath joined the scroll of names of “gone too soon” and we will all wonder what might have been had he not left us before he should have. However, right now Heath Ledger is in the news now for a pretty lovely reason. For the sixth year, his legacy will help propel a young Australian into Hollywood.

The Heath Ledger Scholarship application process for 2014 is now open. From the official scholarship website, “the scholarship is open to any emerging Australian actor to further their career and training in the U.S. and provides over $20,000 in prizes for the winner.” The package includes a ticket to Los Angeles on Virgin Australia, 10 days in Los Angeles from Visit California, a “casting package,” $10,000 cash, and a year of classes from Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre.

James Mackay, who won the scholarship in 2013, believes the award has greatly helped push his career. “This award, in such a short space of time, has become recognized within the industry not only as a vibrant and fitting monument to one of our greatest actors, and a symbol of remarkable opportunity for emerging Australian actors, but also as an expression of the support that Australians in Film offers to the wider community of Australians working in the American industry.”

Celebrity scholarships exist all around the world and within many institutions. The Scholarships website has information about an Alec Baldwin Scholarship, a Bill & Melinda Gates Scholarship, a David Letterman Scholarship, even a Bruce Lee scholarship.

Years ago, when I was applying for college I stumbled into a scholarship program established by a famous actress. The scholarship would have provided tuition and room and board, the only requirement was to maintain a specific GPA and remain in good graces with the theater program, and obviously be a theater major. I have to admit, there was something thrilling about the idea of being a part of the legacy of the scholarship, as if there was some sort of anointment or blessing. Ultimately I didn’t accept the scholarship because one of the primary goals for me after I graduated high school was simply to leave the south, and the scholarship was attached to a very southern university.

I love the idea of a new generation of actors taking Hollywood by storm because Heath Ledger made it possible. The Hollywood Reporter indicates that the previous recipients have been building up credits thanks to this push: “Past recipients include Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Ryan Corr (Not Suitable for Children), Oliver Ackland (The Slap, Cloudstreet) and Anna McGahan (House Husbands).”

Heath will continue to be in the news, will continue to be a part of shaping film because he mattered so much to so many people that they created this scholarship in his name. This legacy is more powerful than any headstone or award show tribute; this is people carrying on and thriving because of the good of Heath.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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