A scholarship established in the name of late actor Heath Ledger has been awarded to up-and-coming actress Bella Heathcote. The $10,000 fund, set up by Ledger's ex-fiancee Michelle Williams and friends following his death in 2008, was given to Heathcote at the sixth annual Australians in Film Breakthrough Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 13 night.
She was hand-picked from a pool of applicants by "The Dark Knight" star's pals and colleagues, including Colin Farrell, who presented the honor. Ledger's sister Kate and his mother, Sally Bell, were on hand to witness the prize-giving, and admit they are touched his memory can help others realize their dreams of acting.
Kate tells People.com, "It is very special. It's honoring our boy so we couldn't be prouder and we think it is an amazing scholarship that is going to give so many opportunities." His mother added, "He had a huge passion for acting. That was the most important thing for him. It wasn't about the money. He had such a passion that just showed through regardless of how big the role was."
The inaugural scholarship, which includes flights to Los Angeles and introductions to agents and casting directors, was awarded last year to Australian performer Oliver Ackland.
Ledger died from an accidental overdose in January 2008.