Outlander star Sam Heughan offers students at old Scottish drama school chance to win funding and mentoring session

Outlander star Sam Heughan is helping students at his old drama school bring creative ideas to life, with the chance to win a mentoring session with him and £5,000 in funding.

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New creative contest Write Start, which launches today, is designed to encourage students from across The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) to expand their skills across music, drama, dance, production, film and education.

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The student or team of students behind the successful submission will receive £5,000 as well as mentoring support from Heughan and industry professionals.

Sam Heughan said Write Start winners will be announced in early 2022

Heughan, who was born in Balmaclellan in Dumfries and Galloway, found worldwide fame playing the lead character of Jamie Fraser in smash-hit, time-travelling drama series Outlander, which is filmed in Scotland and based on the books of author Diana Gabaldon. Season six wrapped in June and is due to air in early 2022.

In January, Heughan will start filming the adventure epic Everest with Ewan McGregor and Mark Strong, inspired by Jeffrey Archer’s novel Paths of Glory.

Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission is part of the Royal Conservatoire’s 175th anniversary celebrations in 2022.

It is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students at RCS, ranked in the world’s top three destinations to study the performing and production arts.

Students from any discipline can submit either a pitch for a performance such as a play, musical, film, opera, performance piece, ballet or an innovative production idea.

Write Start follows the announcement in July of Heughan’s plans to fund a new ten-year drama scholarship programme at RCS.

The global star, who graduated from the BA Acting degree course in 2003, is personally funding three annual scholarships for undergraduate students in the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film.

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Heughan said: “There are so many wonderful disciplines at the conservatoire and that collaboration can be really interesting.

"It’s important for students to think outside the box. Maybe a ballet dancer has a burning ambition to be a writer or just has a really good idea.

“From my own career, I’ve realised that there’s a lot of fluidity. You might find that there are other avenues that you can explore that you didn’t even think about that can also help support your chosen career.

"It energises you and keeps you adaptable to the industry. When we see people from all walks of life or different departments collaborating on something, that’s when real creativity can shine.”

The BAFTA-nominated actor advised students to give it a go.

He said: “I’ve started writing a little bit. I never thought I’d be a writer, I never thought I could do it, but once you sit down and start it just surprises you. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the students come up with.”

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Sam Heughan is a shining example of how to pay it forward, who uses his platform for good to make a difference in the world and enables others to reach their own potential.

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“Through the Sam Heughan Scholarship and Write Start, he is helping to nurture the next generation of performing and production artists at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland by sharing the opportunities that he experienced while studying here. We are deeply grateful to Sam for his passionate support and incredible generosity.”

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