In Perth, Australia, on May 17th, Hugh Jackman helped launched his newest philanthropical effort: the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Performing Arts. At WA Academy’s Mt. Lawley campus, he celebrating the importance of (performing) arts education — and how his time at WAAPA left a great impact on his career.
Hugh announced that he and wife Deborra-Lee Furness would be donating $1 million to the foundation – which will help groom future acting talents – matching a donation by Andrew Forrest. This, on top of the $10 million fundraising goal they hope to reach within the next four years. Check out some quotes from Perth Now below:
“Nothing could make me happier [than giving back],” [Hugh Jackman] said. “I can tell you with absolute certainty: there is no way my career would be what it is or that I would be standing in this capacity on this stage if it wasn’t for this institution of WAAPA. It is unique; there is nowhere like it in the world, and everyone in our business knows about WAAPA and I want it to be treasured here, in this state, as much as it is around the world.”
Jackman said he wanted to avoid discussions concerning the lack of government funding to the arts and, instead, “focus on being part of the solution.”
“This is a marathon and we hope to be here for the long haul,” he said.
To close the launch, Hugh Jackman joined several current students of WAAPA on stage to sing Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home” — a staple among Hugh’s performances. Others in attendance included Adam Gilchrist, Colin Barnett, and Aurelio Costarella. Perth Now has the following comments from others who were at the launch (including a former teacher) on Hugh’s generosity:
Former head of acting, Chris Edmund, who directed and taught Jackman between 1992-94, said Jackman’s commitment WAAPA was “extraordinary. He didn’t have to do this.” Edmund, who retired last year after 30 years with the prestigious academy, said Jackman’s support was “guaranteeing the longevity of WAAPA.”
Stephanie Power, who was two years ahead of Jackman in WAAPA’s acting course and remains friends with the actor, said the foundation’s support was crucial. “It’s very important to WAAPA because I think basically without it we’re just going to fold,” Power said. “This will maintain WAAPA as a drama school and maintain its standing in the world [and] I think without the foundation, WAAPA has a death knell.”
Power, who runs WAAPA’s photo archives, said she remembers a “gangly,” gutsy, and fresh-faced Hugh Jackman arriving WAAPA with an unrivalled energy and enthusiasm.
“When I graduated, he found my first place that I lived in,” she said. “If you went to him and said you had a problem he would go, ‘Let me see what I can do.’
“I will tear up. He is the nicest guy; he’s a beautiful, beautiful man who has a heart of gold.”