HE found worldwide fame playing Highlander Jamie Fraser in the cult series Outlander and has gone on become an author, producer and philanthropist.
Graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2003, Sam Heughan has enjoyed global success on the back of the popular historical drama series filmed on home soil and based on the Diana Gabaldon books.
However, now the Outlander star and is giving something back and has created a new scholarship and scriptwriting competition to support the next generation at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Heughan is paving the way for aspiring artists to follow in his footsteps and is personally funding a new ten-year scholarship programme in his name and returning to his RCS roots to support the next generation as they pursue their dreams.
The star, who graduated from the BA Acting degree course in 2003, has invested in three annual scholarships for undergraduate students in the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film.
The scholarships will be awarded for the new academic year in September to two Scottish students who are taking up places on the BA Acting programme and a non-Scottish student on any course within the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film. The scholarships will support students for whom it might not have been possible to study in Glasgow at the RCS, one of the world’s top three destinations to study the performing and production arts according to World University Rankings 2021.
In addition to the scholarship programme, the Sam Heughan Scriptwriting Award will be introduced later this year to encourage emerging artists to collaborate and expand their creative skills across the conservatoire’s disciplines of music, drama, dance, production, film and education.
Born in Balmaclellan in Dumfries and Galloway, the 41-year-old found fame playing the lead character of Jamie Fraser in smash-hit, time-travelling drama series Outlander. Season six wrapped in June and is due to air in early 2022.
“I learned so much at the Conservatoire – the support that they gave me and even now, the community that they’ve built, ” he said. “It felt really important to be able to give back, to help inspire some of the students and support them because I know that there’s so much creativity and talent coming out of this very special building.”
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said the scholarship was a generous gift.
Prof Sharkey 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 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We’re aligned in our mission to make the arts accessible for all, to ensure that everyone can realise their full potential and flourish in their chosen path, irrespective of financial circumstances or other barriers they may face.”
It was announced earlier this month that Heughan will star in the adventure epic Everest with Ewan McGregor and Mark Strong, inspired by Jeffrey Archer’s novel Paths of Glory. Set in 1921, the film centres on the real-life George Mallory (McGregor), who is picked by Arthur Hinks (Strong) of the Royal Geographic Society to scale the previously unconquerable Mount Everest. Heughan will play George Finch, Mallory’s nemesis who, despite being an outsider amongst his fellow climbers, shares their obsession with conquering Everest.
It isn’t just Outlander that has TV fans hooked, as he has joined forces with series co-star Graham McTavish to create, executive-produce and star in the eight-part travel show Men in Kilts, where they entertained viewers with their exploits on a road trip around Scotland. The duo travelled around the country in a camper van for a real-life adventure based on their number one New York Times bestselling book, Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other.
Away from the entertainment world, Sam’s love of a dram and his homeland inspired the launch of his award-winning whisky brand, The Sassenach.
A driving force in Sam’s life is his commitment to charity and he is the founder of the global movement My Peak Challenge, which he launched in 2015. It’s dedicated to educating and inspiring its thousands of members around the globe to live healthier, happier and more balanced lives while fundraising to change lives. It has raised more than $5 million dollars for its charity partners to date.