WIZARDS OF OZ

A new gen­er­a­tion of our stars is be­ing cel­e­brated in Hollywood, sup­ported by the Aus­tralians in Film Foun­da­tion, at whose gala awards Vogue cap­tured this ex­clu­sive por­trait se­ries. So­phie Ted­man­son goes be­hind the scenes. Pho­tographed by Julie Adams.

VOGUE Australia - - News -

Some­one once joked in Hollywood that if an ac­tor wants to land a role they should put on an Aus­tralian ac­cent. It’s a quip co­me­dian and ac­tress Rebel Wil­son can re­late to. “It was hard for me, com­ing over here just six years ago … hard to be a pi­o­neer in my area, to do comedy in my Aus­tralian voice, which re­ally wasn’t done when I first came here. But now it’s changed to the point where peo­ple are re­quest­ing Aus­tralian ac­cents and Aus­tralian ac­tors in comedy,” she says.

Cer­tainly those broad Aussie tones were in full force last Oc­to­ber as Aus­tralia’s new gen­er­a­tion of stars was feted at an awards cer­e­mony. With the scent of eu­ca­lyp­tus in the air – an homage to Aus­tralia – Wil­son hammed it up on stage with her Brides­maids di­rec­tor Paul Feig; while side of stage Joel Edger­ton joked with Jai Court­ney, Luke Bracey and Pa­trick Bram­mall.

It was a com­ing to­gether for the Aus­tralians in Film (AiF) awards, the an­nual gala fundraiser for the LA-based foun­da­tion. Now in its 16th year, AiF was cre­ated in Hollywood at a timet when the likes of Ni­cole Kid­man, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe and Ge­of­frey Rush were paving their way to Os­car glory. But now, a new gen­er­a­tion is reap­ing the re­wards, both in front of and be­hind the cam­eras.

A NEW GEN­ER­A­TION IS REAP­ING THE RE­WARDS, BOTH IN FRONT OF AND BE­HIND THE CAM­ERAS

Known col­lec­tively as the “koala” or “gum­leaf mafia”, or “Aussiewood”, the grow­ing num­ber of Aus­tralian cre­atives in Hollywood now has the sup­port of US-based in­dus­try bod­ies and awards cer­e­monies, in­clud­ing G’Day USA and the AACTA In­ter­na­tional Awards.

A not-for-profit foun­da­tion, AiF aims to de­velop and nur­ture new film-mak­ers and stars. “Our pur­pose is twofold,” says AiF pres­i­dent Kate Marks, who is also an LA-based ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent for Aus­film. “Cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess of Aus­tralians in Hollywood through the awards … pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to nur­ture that next gen­er­a­tion.”

The AiF re­branded and grew dur­ing 2016, gar­ner­ing sup­port from other in­dus­try bod­ies. It also set up Charlie’s (named af­ter Charlie Chap­lin), an of­fice and cre­ative space housed on the his­toric Raleigh Stu­dios lot in Hollywood and stun­ningly de­signed by cre­ative In­grid Weir, daugh­ter of di­rec­tor Peter Weir.

When Vogue vis­ited the space we dis­cov­ered Queens­land writer and pro­ducer Me­gan Done­man work­ing qui­etly away on a script for NCIS: Los An­ge­les. Done­man was the re­cip­i­ent of AiF’s in­au­gu­ral Greg Coote Schol­ar­ship for screen­writ­ers, while the Heath Ledger schol­ar­ship for emerg­ing ac­tors was won by Ash­leigh Cum­mings.

The 2016 AiF gala event also in­cluded the in­au­gu­ral Screen NSW An­nette Keller­man award for trail­blaz­ing women, pre­sented by Vogue Aus­tralia and won by Rebel Wil­son. Feig, who gave Wil­son the award, de­scribed the co­me­dian as “brave, un­stop­pable, hard­work­ing, car­ing and funny as fuck”.

Wil­son says she’s grate­ful to her Aus­tralians pre­de­ces­sors. “We are in a priv­i­leged cat­e­gory be­cause of all the hard work from the peo­ple who have come be­fore us and made it over here … I re­ally feel lucky to be an Aus­tralian work­ing in LA be­cause we are kind of blessed. We’re nor­mally pretty down-to-earth, hard­work­ing, tal­ented and ver­sa­tile ac­tors. Some­times I joke with my Aussie ac­tor-friends that one day Amer­ica is go­ing to wake up and kick us all out be­cause we take their jobs!”

Marks agrees, but adds that de­spite the doors be­ing open much wider now, young cre­atives still need sup­port. “There are so many Aussies over here do­ing great things, so there’s an as­sump­tion it’s easy, but it’s not. It’s a hard city to crack,” she says. “And that’s why Aus­tralians in Film is such a lovely sup­port net­work for ev­ery­one. When you hear Rebel talk about how dif­fi­cult it was for her it’s a good re­minder of how Aus­tralians do get be­hind each other. And while it’s not easy, with hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion you can go through, and Aussies seem to have a knack for do­ing that.”

From left: ac­tors James Mackay, Thomas Coc­querel and Brenton Th­waites. Ac­tress Is­abel Lu­cas. Be­low right: ac­tress and singer So­phie Lowe.

Aly­cia Deb­nam-Carey. Above: ac­tress and 2016 Heath Ledger Schol­ar­ship win­ner Ash­leigh Cum­mings.

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