After an unprecedented number of applications from across Australia, Rahel Romahn has been named as the 11th recipient of the prestigious and highly-coveted Heath Ledger Scholarship, the richest acting prize in Australia. He joins a growing list of Australian actors whose international careers have been launched on the back of winning of the scholarship.
Rahel most recently starred in the highly anticipated series Shantaram, as well as Mr InBetween and Little Monsters. He was nominated for an AACTA and Logie award for his role in The Principal. He is based in Sydney and does not, as yet, have US representation.
Announced today at a live online ceremony, Rahel was selected by a star-studded jury lead by global actor Chris Hemsworth (Thor: Love and Thunder, Extraction), Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Lining Playbook), leading UK casting director Nina Gold (Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Power of the Dog), acclaimed director Rachel Perkins (Total Control, Mystery Road) and US actor Alia Shawkat (Search Party, Animals)
Jacki Weaver said: “The calibre of this year’s finalists made our job as judges very difficult. We were moved and entertained by their performances and know that they all have a big career ahead of them. There can only be one winner and we are proud and excited to award Rahel with this scholarship. He embodies the qualities of excellence in acting combined with the passion and dedication to excel on the world stage. I wish him every success and can’t wait to work with him!”
Rahel was born in Kurdistan, North Iraq at the peak of Saddam Hussein’s brutal genocide of Kurdish people. Rahel and his parents fled Kurdistan and lived as nomadic asylum seekers for years until they were finally accepted into Australia. Since then, Rahel has found his love for the craft of acting and has worked tirelessly on his career in film, television and theatre. His other credits include Here Out West,God’s Favourite Idiot, Australian Gangster, Ali’s Wedding and the stage play 7 for the Sydney Theater Company.
Rahel said today: “Throughout my life, I have learnt a lot from the leaders of the craft of acting. From Heath I learned the power of vulnerability, the importance of bravery and the necessity of supporting the ones around you. These are extremely vital aspects to being a performer in our industry.”
“I want to highlight the importance of inclusivity. I am so proud of our industry for putting diversity at the top of our priority list. Leading by example and creating a safe haven for people of colour, the LGBTQI+ and gender diverse community. It is so simple, we are all human and deserve to be treated with respect and safety. Discrimination has gone on long enough and I believe we are getting closer and closer to becoming one big family who finally accept and learn to understand and love one another.”
The Heath Ledger Scholarship is awarded to an emerging Australian actor with extraordinary ability and dedication to their craft who wishes to work and train internationally. The scholarship has propelled many previous recipients into international careers including Bella Heathcote (Pieces of Her), Cody Fern (American Horror Story), Ashleigh Cummings (Citadel),Mojean Aria (The Enforcer) and Charmaine Bingwa (The Good Fight).
Charmaine Bingwa, who announced Rahel today, said: “It’s never lost on me, for one moment, what a rich bounty the Heath Ledger Scholarship has brought me. It was one of the most beautifully transformative experiences. In a short space of time it put me on the path to working with world-class talents on world-class projects. I am forever grateful to Heath, his remarkable legacy and his benevolent family. I’m thrilled for the next recipient and the incredible opportunities that lie before them.”
The finalists this year included Max Brown (The Tourist, The Gloaming), Mabel Li (The Tailings, New Gold Mountain), Andrea Solonge (Privileged, Girl, Interpreted), Zoe Terakes (Wentworth, Nine Perfect Strangers) and Harvey Zielinski (Don’t Look Deeper, My First Summer).
Prizes this year include a US$10,000 cash prize to support the recipient with living expenses in the US while studying, a return economy flight to the US, plus the following educational training and career preparation training worth over US$40K/AUS$50K:
- Private Coaching from Lisa Robertson and Group Classes at Lisa Robertson Studio;
- Private speech and dialects coaching by Joy Ellison;
- Private coaching, classes, and special workshops taught by Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Kristof Konrad from Alexander Techworks;
- Physical Approach to Acting & Voice De-structuring (Authentic Voice) with Kennedy Brown- LA Acting Coach
- Group and Personal Coaching Provided by The Performer’s Mindset;
- Immigration Services Provided by Raynor and Associates;
- Studio Headshot Package by Sally Flegg Photography and Hair & Makeup Package by Sophia Ivy Lee;
- Personal styling services by Lenya Wilson;
- Bespoke Private Meditation Classes Provided by Chris Phillips, Inner Sky
- Lifetime AiF membership, which includes access to the creative workspaces, Charlie’s including invitations to exclusive AiF Events.
- The winner’s submission reel will also be preserved in the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia in Canberra.
The Heath Ledger Scholarship is supported by the Australians & Hollywood exhibition at the National Film and Sound Archive, currently in Canberra.