Charmaine Bingwa wins 10th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship
After a record number of entries, Charmaine Bingwa has become the 10th winner of the coveted annual Heath Ledger Scholarship, Australians in Film (AiF) announced at an event presented by Bird in Hand winery at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, USA.
Founded five months after Heath passed, the scholarship is awarded to an actor who exhibits distinctive and unique potential. Known for his incredible support of fellow actors seeking to make it big, the scholarship carries on Heath’s legacy by offering invaluable assistance for a young and emerging Australian actor to kick-start their career, break into Hollywood or train internationally.
“As with previous years, we had an exceptional group of finalists, which made it all the more difficult to choose. It goes without saying that each one of them has an exciting future ahead of them,” said judge Naomi Watts, “In the end we can only have one winner and I am truly thrilled for Charmaine. We were all incredibly moved by her performance in her final audition and can’t wait to follow her career.”
Charmaine Bingwa is an award-winning Australian/Zimbabwean actor who like Heath, was born in Western Australia. Bingwa recently appeared alongside international star Monica Bellucci in Nekrotronic, which has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this month. She also starred, wrote, produced and co-directed the award-winning series Little Sista, which won Best Screenplay at the LGBT Toronto Film Festival and has been selected in Out Web Fest LA, Web Series Festival Global, Sicily Web Fest, Roma Cinema DOC, New Jersey Web Fest, ITVFest and Melbourne Web Fest.
She received both a Sydney Theatre Award nomination and Broadway World nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the moving yet challenging role of “Mrs Muller” in Doubt: A Parable at The Old Fitz. Her performance was described as “a rivetingly poignant delivery… so finely calibrated it’s elevated to unforgettable status.” Other recent acting credits include Australian feature film The Pitch, short films Boys Will Be Boys, Can You Dig It and Waiting For God and stage plays Mame at Hayes Theatre, American Beauty Shop at KXT bAKEHOUSE, Birdland at New Theatre and The Seagull in the iconic role of “Masha” at The Depot Theatre.
On accepting the award, Charmaine said, “I’m completely taken aback and so honoured to be 2018’s winner of the Heath Ledger Scholarship.” Noting that there were “so many beautiful people” she wanted to thank, she said, “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. Heath personally taught me what the power of a performance can do”, before citing his performance in Brokeback Mountain particularly touching for her and inspiring her both professionally and personally.
The judging panel who selected the winner also included Rose Byrne (Peter Rabbit, Bridesmaids, Two Hands); Academy Award-winning actor, writer and producer Matt Damon (The Martian, The Bourne Identity series, Good Will Hunting); Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby, Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Night Manager); Australian director Gregor Jordan (Two Hands, Ned Kelly, upcoming Tim Winton’s Dirt Music); U.S. film and TV producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers franchise, Deepwater Horizon, RED); Emmy-nominated director Jeremy Podeswa (The Handmaid’s Tale, Game of Thrones); and casting directors Carmen Cuba (Stranger Things, Alien: Covenant, Magic Mike XXL), Kirsty McGregor (Lion, Top of the Lake), Amanda Mitchell (The Code, Marco Polo), Jason Wood (A&E Networks),Barbara McCarthy (The Kennedys) and Ann Fay, Patron of the HLS.
Charmaine joins past winners who have gone on to achieve incredible success in their careers. The same evening of the HLS10 announcement, the crime thriller Dead Lucky starring last year’s winner Mojean Aria opposite Rachel Griffiths, premiered on Sundance Now. Aria has also just finished work on the film Danger Close opposite Travis Fimmel and was present at the Chateau Marmont announcement alongside fellow past recipients Cody Fern, Matt Levett and Oliver Ackland. This same week, it was announced 2016’s recipient Ashleigh Cummings landed her first US TV series in AMC’s supernatural horror drama NOS4A2, after making her Hollywood film debut starring opposite Ansel Elgort and Nicole Kidman in The Goldfinch. Other previous winners include, Bella Heathcote who is the lead in the new Ridley Scott | CBS drama Strange Angel and Cody Fern, the breakout star of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story: Versace and soon to be seen in House of Cards opposite Robin Wright.
AiF is thrilled to welcome Adelaide Hills’ winery, Bird in Hand as this year’s presenting partners, alongside long-standing partners Qantas, Ausfilm and Screenwise. Media partners this year are Vogue Australia and GQ Australia with The Standard West Hollywood, as the official hotel partner.
Benefactors to the program include the Ledger family, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Rose Byrne, Vince Vaughn, Liam Hemsworth, Alex O’Loughlin, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phillip Noyce, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gregor Jordan, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Nicole Kidman.
In attendance at the ceremony were Kim and Kate Ledger, HLS10 host and ambassador, Eka Darville (Jessica Jones, The Originals), Abbie Cornish (Candy, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Luke Bracey (Point Break, Hacksaw Ridge), Damon Herriman (Candy, The Nightingale, upcoming Once Upon A Time in Hollywood), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, upcoming In Like Flynn) Tom Cocquerel (Table 19, upcoming Celeste, In Like Flynn) and previous HLS recipients Mojean Aria (Dead Lucky, upcoming Danger Close), Oliver Ackland (The Originals) and Matt Levett (A Place to Call Home, The Secret Daughter).
2018 Heath Ledger Scholarship winner – Charmaine Bingwa
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