No limits on Ledger scholarship candidates

Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
The Ledger family want to cast a very wide net for the next winner of the Heath Ledger scholarship

Young Australian actors from culturally diverse backgrounds, rural areas and with disabilities are being encouraged to apply for the annual Heath Ledger scholarship that is designed to open doors in Hollywood.

The $US30,000 scholarship is in its 10th year and has the backing of the Ledger family, the late Oscar winner's former partner Michelle Williams and members of Australia's acting elite including Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Rose Byrne.

Last year's winner Mojean Aria has had success since with roles including the lead in SBS's upcoming crime thriller Dead Lucky, opposite Rachel Griffith, and Kriv Stender's new film Danger Close, opposite Travis Fimmell.

Los Angeles-based non-profit screen organisation, Australians in Film, and the Ledger family plan to cast a wide net to find the 2018 winner.

"We want this scholarship to open doors for Australian actors who otherwise wouldn't get the chance," Ledger's sister and AiF board member, Kate Ledger, said.

"Australia has an amazing variety of talent to showcase.

"We are especially encouraging actors of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, those from rural and remote areas, those with disabilities and people from the LGBTQI communities to apply."

Australian actor Eka Darville has been named as the 2018 scholarship ambassador.

The scholarship winner will be announced on September 20 at the Chateau Marmont, Hollywood, and will receive a long list of benefits including introductions to casting directors, two round-trip airfares from Australia to Los Angeles, $US10,000 towards a living allowance, rent and transport assistance in Los Angeles, acting, movement, voice and dialect classes, immigration services, headshot sessions and showreel editing.

The scholarship is open to actors aged 18 to 35 years and entries close on June 16.

Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in New York in 2008.

Australian winery Bird in Hand has become a major backer of the scholarship.