James McAvoy Helps Young Actors

11 April 2015, 06:17

James McAvoy has pledged £125,000 to his former drama school to help aspiring actors.

The X-Men star is funding a 10-year scholarship programme at Glasgow's Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).

The cash will assist Scots aged 25 and under who would otherwise be unable to afford junior tuition at the school.

Bafta-winner McAvoy, who has received acclaim for his roles on both stage and screen, said he wants to help young people achieve their potential.

Doctor Who star David Tennant, Tom Conti, Alan Cumming and Robert Carlyle are all former students of RCS, formerly known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD).

McAvoy, a graduate of the BA Acting programme, said: "There are few opportunities for young people to engage in performing arts.

"I see tons of young people who are vastly intelligent but because they have this ingrained humility, it gets in the way of them expressing themselves and showing how brilliant they are.

"Drama breaks through barriers and it can give people the tools to walk into a room and express themselves.

"I really believe in that, it's why I believe drama should be taught in our state schools from an early age and it's why I am delighted to be part of creating the opportunity for young Scots to help them realise their potential through drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.''

The actor from Drumchapel, Glasgow, graduated in 2000 and returned seven years ago to receive a fellowship.

He said his time at the academy had a "profound effect'' on his life before he went on to pick up roles in Atonement, The Last King Of Scotland and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

He will now take on the role of Patron of the Junior Conservatoire of Drama.

McAvoy said: "I am where I am today because of an exceptional teacher who went above and beyond the call of duty.

"She reached out to the community and she brought director and actor David Hayman into the school to talk to her students. That was me hooked.

"I had that opportunity and I want the same for other young people out there who may not have even considered going to college or any other kind of higher education.

"I would say to any young person thinking about drama, 'Go for it, do it, don't be worried about what people are going to say'.

"I come from a place where nobody had done anything like it and it worked out pretty good.

"Drama will open your mind. It's not just about being an actor, drama opens your mind whether you are going to be an actor, a doctor or a plumber.''

RCA principal Jeffrey Sharkey said: "We are absolutely thrilled to have James McAvoy enable and inspire young people to be part of the Royal Conservatoire.

"I have no doubt of the profound and long-term impact his incredible support will have on individuals, their families and their communities.

"The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a world-class centre for the performance arts and is incredibly proud of the positive impact and contribution our students and graduates are making in so many ways across Scotland, and across the world, as creative contributors and engaged citizens.''

Applications to the James McAvoy Drama Scholarship fund will open in mid-May, with applicants having to demonstrate that financial cost is the main barrier to accessing pre-higher education drama training at RCS.