The first transgender finalist of HLS, Zielinski started acting at eight. Since transitioning in 2015, he has paved a new path as a male actor with roles in TV and theatre, enjoying the freedom of self, as well as societal acceptance. “It means a lot to be welcomed in such a profound way. As someone from a diverse background who sometimes questions whether or not there’s space for me in this industry, to have someone extend their hand and say there is, and that I’m one of 10 Heath Ledger Scholarship finalists, is very important to me.
“Before [transitioning], I pulled into the shadows, and when I transitioned it was like the roles fitted me better; I can go deeper, I can be more expressive. A performer has to be in harmony with their body and I was really disconnected, but now I consider myself quite a physical performer, especially doing theatre … it was like an unleashing, it was hugely positive for my craft.”