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Screen NSW to honour Rebel Wilson

Inaugural award by-passes some very big names to recognise a distinctive comedienne.

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Screen NSW has made an interesting choice as the very first recipient of its Annette Kellerman Award, given to a screen industry figure who has been a pioneering role model for Australian women.

Sorry Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Judy Davis, Rachel Griffiths, Jacki Weaver, Toni Collette, Rose Byrne and Naomi Watts, but the honours will go to Rebel Wilson.

This new award will be presented annually by Screen NSW, in a partnership with Australians In Films (AiF) and Vogue Australia.

Wilson has had some big screen success with films like Pitch Perfect but Super Fun Night only enjoyed a brief run on ABC (US). This week it was reported she is embroiled in a defamation case with journalist Elizabeth Wilson.

Screen NSW Chief Executive, Courtney Gibson, said, “Rebel Wilson’s blazed her own unique trail in Hollywood and – like Annette Kellerman before her – she’s a complete original; a superstar without peer. As an Australian woman doing it her way in Hollywood, there’s no more perfect inaugural winner of the Screen NSW Annette Kellerman award than Rebel.”

The award will be presented in Los Angeles on 19th October at the 2016 AiF Awards & Benefit Dinner, hosted by Tim Minchin.

Annette Kellerman was Australia’s first-ever Hollywood star. She was born in Marrickville, Sydney in 1887, learning to swim as a teen in order to regain the use of her legs, having suffered from Ricketts. She became a master endurance swimmer and diver, who beat her male opponents in races all over the world. She became a vaudeville star before embarking on a career in Hollywood. Kellerman starred in several big budget Hollywood films – The Mermaid (1911), A Daughter of the Gods (1916), Queen of the Sea (1918) and Venus of the South Sea (1924). She invented and marketed the streamlined one-piece swimming costume we know today, at a time when women were still strapped into cumbersome woollen neck-to-knee swimmers. In 1952, Esther Williams portrayed Kellerman in the biopic Million Dollar Mermaid, and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She died in 1975, aged 89, after a lifetime as a pioneer in every way – in entertainment, in sport and in business.

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