Outlander Sam Heughan launches bid to help unearth new stage and screen talents in Scotland

Outlander star Sam Heughan has unveiled plans to help kick-start the careers of future stage and screen talents at his old drama school in Glasgow.

The actor has returned to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he graduated from in 2003, is funding a new scholarship programme and a scriptwriting competition in his name.

Heughan, who has pledged to support the separate initiatives for the next 10 years, returned to the RCS to launch the schemes.

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The scholarships will be targeted at students who would not otherwise be able to afford to take up the offer of a place at the RCS due to their financial circumstances.

Two Scottish students will receive financial support to take up places on the RCS acting degree course while a non-Scottish student will receive financial help to take up a place on any course in the school of drama, dance, production and film every year.

Heughan will also be bankrolling the launch of a new scriptwriting award later this year. The RCS said it would be encourage the development of emerging artists across the various art forms and disciplines it embraces.

Heughan, who was born in Balmaclellan in Dumfries and Galloway, was brought up in New Galloway, but relocated with his family to Edinburgh when he was 12. He landed his first stage role while he was studying at the RCS, in Outlying Islands at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

He appeared in the TV shows Midsomer Murders, River City and Doctors, and played Tennent’s Lager founder Hugh Tennent in a series of adverts, before landing the role of Jamie Fraser in Outlander in 2013. Filming on a sixth series was recently completed, with a seventh already commissioned.

Sam Heughan returned to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to launch the new initiatives. Picture: Robert McFadzean
Sam Heughan returned to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to launch the new initiatives. Picture: Robert McFadzean

In a message filmed at the RCS during his visit, Heughan said: “I came here many years ago and just recall how difficult it was for me then and, obviously, in the current environment, especially with the pandemic, things are equally or doubly as hard for students.

"I really wanted to create a scholarship that would support young students."

"I learned so much from what was the Royal Scottish Academy (of Music and Drama) - now the conservatoire - just the support that they gave me and even now, the community that they've built.

"It felt really important to be able to give back. I feel very lucky in my career and where I've found myself in the industry. To help, I guess, inspire some of the students as well and to support them because I know that there's so much creativity and talent coming out of this very special building."

Sam Heughan graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, when it was known as the Royal Scottish A,cademy of Music and Drama in 2003. Picture: Robert McFadzean

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, RCS principal said: “Sam Heughan is an inspiration - not only is he known and loved by millions around the world thanks to his role in Outlander but he is also passionately committed to his charitable work in which he has made such an extraordinary difference to the lives of others.

"Sam firmly believes in giving back, in sharing the opportunities that he experienced studying here.

"We thank Sam deeply for this generous gift of scholarship and we look forward to working with Sam to create fantastic opportunities for students, who will follow in the footsteps of a wonderful ambassador not just for RCS, but for Scotland."

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