The AACTA Trailblazer Award highlights the achievements, abilities and successes of an Australian screen practitioner who inspires others with their portfolio of work.
First awarded to Rose Byrne at the 4th AACTA Awards in January 2015, the Trailblazer Award recognises the multi-disciplinary achievements of talented individuals, acknowledging their valuable contribution to promoting Australian screen excellence both in Australia and abroad.
The AACTA Trailblazer Award is a discretionary award and is determined by the AFI | AACTA Board and President.
Past AACTA Trailblazer Award Recipients
2022 AACTA Awards
7th AACTA Awards
Australian actor and director Simon Baker received the AACTA Trailblazer Award at the 7th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel in Sydney on Wednesday 6 December 2017. Watch Simon accept the Award here.
Throughout his career, Simon has consistently showcased his diversity as a screen practitioner; masterfully transitioning from actor to director across film and television. First garnering international attention when he starred in the Oscar®-winning film L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, Simon has developed a varied oeuvre throughout his career. Notable films include Michael Winterbottom’s thriller noir THE KILLER INSIDE ME; Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed RIDE WITH THE DEVIL; lauded box office success THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, opposite Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway; and the Oscar®-nominated and multiple independent award-winning feature MARGIN CALL.
From 2001-2004, Simon starred in the TV series THE GUARDIAN, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series. In 2008, he began his role as the lead in the critically successful international hit THE MENTALIST, where he was nominated for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and two People’s Choice Awards.
Simon was previously nominated for an AFI Award for his performance in SECRET MEN’S BUSINESS.
Simon made his feature film directorial debut in 2018 with BREATH, an adaptation of Tim Winton’s bestselling novel, which he also co-wrote and produced. Simon also starred in the West Australian-shot drama alongside Elizabeth Debicki and Richard Roxburgh.
“It’s an honour to be acknowledged at all, but to be acknowledged at home, in Australia, resonates so profoundly for me,” said Simon of the honour.
“Simon Baker’s stellar reputation with audiences and industry worldwide has made him an incredible ambassador for the Australian screen industry and the outstanding screen talent it produces,” said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. “From his success on US television to his return to Australia for his feature film directorial debut, Simon’s career trajectory stands as an inspiration to future generations in the industry.”
6th AACTA Awards
Australian actress Isla Fisher received the AACTA Trailblazer Award at the 6th AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel in Sydney on Wednesday 7 December 2016. Watch Isla Fisher accept the Award, here.
An AACTA Award and Logie nominated performer, Isla’s career spans film, television and stage around the globe. The self-described ‘comic-actress’, who is a strong advocate for comedic roles for women in Hollywood, is also an acclaimed dramatic actress and a successful author.
“From her breakout roles in HOME AND AWAY and the international comedy WEDDING CRASHERS to her critically acclaimed dramatic performances in THE GREAT GATSBY and NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, Isla has carved a diverse career we hope serves as an inspiration to other Australian performers," said AFI | AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella. "We also recognise Isla’s influential role as a champion for female comic actresses – a cause she has advocated for over a decade and which marries with one of AACTA’s most important aims – to foster talented Australian screen practitioners who serve to mentor and inspire the next generation of Australians to pursue their craft to its full potential.”
“I’m so honoured to be recognised by the Australian Academy and my Australian peers as a trailblazer in film and television. That I am considered among those Australians who are inspiring the next generation of talent is a true honour. I’m looking forward to coming back to Sydney to accept the AACTA Trailblazer Award," said Fisher of the honour.
4th AACTA Awards
Rose Byrne was awarded the Inaugural AACTA Trailblazer Award at the 4th AACTA Awards in Sydney, January 2015. Watch AACTA President Geoffrey Rush present Byrne with the Award, here.
Byrne’s transcendent reputation in the public eye in combination with her success on the big and small screen marries with one of the Australian Academy’s most important aims – to foster a collegiate of highly talented Australians whose achievements will serve to motivate and mentor the next generation of Australians, enabling them to maximise their full potential.
Her breakout performance in TWO HANDS heralded the beginning of a rising talent, whose career trajectory serves as an inspiration to other young Australian performers. Byrne’s success in the US adds to Australia’s international reputation for continuously producing outstanding screen talent, and the Australian Academy was delighted to honour Byrne at home with this Award.
Nominated for Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy Awards, Byrne also holds nominations for numerous critic awards around the globe. Byrne holds two AFI and AACTA Awards: Best Lead Actress for her performance in THE TURNING (2013), and an AFI International Award for Best Actress for DAMAGES (2007).
As a girl from the Sydney suburb of Balmain, Byrne’s career began at the age of 15 years old with her first feature film role in DALLAS DOLL (1994). Early peer recognition followed in 2000 at the Venice Film Festival - winning the award for best actress for her performance in THE GODDESS OF 1967. Since her role in TWO HANDS (1999) opposite Heath Ledger, Byrne’s career has diversified over a number of different genres from the local to the international stage.
She is now an in-demand actor in both the US film and television industries. Her role opposite Glenn Close in the US television drama series DAMAGES saw Byrne break into the international market, with two Golden Globe and two Emmy Award nominations. Byrne is in demand on the big screen for her comedy prowess which kicked off co-starring with the outlandish Russell Brand in GET HIM TO THE GREEK.
Her international comedy hits include, BRIDESMAIDS, THE INTERNSHIP and BAD NEIGHBOURS. She continues to delight and entertain audiences of every age - singing and dancing her way through ANNIE and as a secret agent in SPY. The success and the popularity of her character portrayals on the big and small screen have garnered her millions of fans around the globe.