• Mystery Road, 2013, Ivan Sen, Feature. (AAP Image/Supplied by Transmission Home Entertainment)Source: AAP Image/Supplied by Transmission Home Entertainment
First Nations actor takes out AACTA Award for Best Actor, trumping a strong field of nominees from Europe and the United States.
Mikele Syron

10 Mar 2021 - 5:13 PM  UPDATED 10 Mar 2021 - 5:22 PM

Arrernte and Arabana actor Aaron Pedersen has received the inaugural AACTA International Award for 'Best Actor in a Series', for his work in ABC TV’s ‘Mystery Road’.

Pedersen, who played the role of Detective Jay Swam in the Indigenous-led drama series, was given the top award by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, which honours achievements in screen excellence from around the world.

In his acceptance speech, Pedersen said that he was humbled and grateful to receive the coveted award.

“For me to be in such exalted company is truly a great honour,” he said.

The other nominees for the Best Actor in a Series Award were Jason Bateman for Ozark, Hugh Grant for The Undoing, Daniel Levy for Schitt’s Creek and Paul Mescal for Normal People.

Pedersen acknowledged the importance of an Indigenous-led program being recognised. 

“I also want to acknowledge the Mystery Road series and what it says about Australia, our identity, and our history. I am so proud it is a First Nations series that is the top-rating drama on Australian television," he said.

He also thanked film-maker Ivan Sen for creating the Mystery Road character Detective Jay Swan, which he described as a 'role of a lifetime'. 

The Indigenous-led series also took out the AACTA International Award for 'Best Drama Series' in 2020.

Pedersen’s work was honoured in February at the G’Day USA Gala for 'Excellence in Television', making him the first-ever Indigenous recipient of the award.

Pedersen is the current host of the ABC TV’s ‘Australia Remastered’ documentary series.