It was an emotional moment for, well, everyone when Australian-born actor Mojean Aria accepted the 9th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship last week. The award, which is funded by the late actor's family, honors emerging talent from Australia. Aria's entire speech was heartfelt, but he broke down in tears when he thanked his mother. Luckily, Ledger's dad was on hand to comfort the actor with a sweet hug.
“I want the burden and responsibility to represent Heath Ledger,” Aria said in the beginning of his speech. “This really is a full circle moment for me.”
“I met Heath Ledger when I was about 12 years old. It was at a screening in Sydney at Fox Studios,” he recalled. “I remember sitting at a theater and Heath came out to [do] a Q&A. And I had no idea about anything then. I remember his energy. I didn’t know anyone that was like that, anyone that was that open. I think about that moment because as Heath’s career went on, I was like, ‘Oh, I was in a room with that guy.’”
Aria, who currently resides in Los Angeles, was honored for his role as Jake LaMotta in the independent film The Bronx Bull. He used his speech to talk about how Ledger's work has influenced him as an actor.
“His sensitivity, I know now that word is called aura, and that kind of led me down a path to explore different sides of myself,” Aria said. “And, understand that you can be that open and that charismatic. And, you don’t have to be a tough guy all the time.”
After thanking Ledger's family, Aria got emotional talking about his mom.
“I have to thank my mother because she comes from Iran. And, she came from a very low-class Iranian family,” he said. “She sacrificed a lot for us in Australia for us to have a future.” That was when Kim Ledger, who was standing by Aria's side, gave him a hug.
“[My mom] actually sneaked me into that screening that I met Heath Ledger at. So, I have to extend appreciation to her,” he concluded.