Scottish teenager follows in the footsteps of acting greats


Ruari Cannon: He has gone from the Artful Dodger in Edinburgh to the bright lights of New York City

A SCOTTISH teenager is following in the footsteps of Hollywood greats after he scooped a prestigious award.

Ruari Cannon was named best actor by the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

After winning a 8,500 scholarship to study at the academy, Ruari was named best actor in his year.

Previous winners of the Charles Jehlinger award include Robert Redford and Spencer Tracey.

The award is given to the student who developed most

“as a person as well as an artist’ and who displays a profession attitude towards the art.

Ruari said he was

“flabbergasted’ to be given the award at his graduation ceremony.

His fellow Scot 20-year-old Lizzie Fegusson, also from Edinburgh, was also honoured with the Lawrence Langner award for speech from the Manhatten-based academy.

Mr Cannon was delighted with a double win for Scotland. He said:

“How often do you get a 2-0 away win for Scotland?

“I’d received my diploma and I was feeling really emotional. The prize-giving speeches were coming up and I was thinking,

“let’s get this over with’ because I just wanted to be with my friends from the course and then they called out my name again. I was speechless. “

Betty Lawson, the academy’s director of external affairs, said:

“It’s quite an achievement that two of the recipients came from Edinburgh.

“Every year we give an award to honour the person who came closest to personifying Jehlinger’s ideals – the development of the student as a person as well as an artist and a demonstration of a professional attitude towards the art and to the work. “

Ms Fergusson’s award is named in honour of a Broadway producer who

“cared very much about the standards of speech on the American stage. “

Mr Cannon began his acting career early with a role in as the Artful Dodger in a professional production of Oliver! at Perth Theatre.

His success comes despite his

“pretty horrible experience’ of Highers at Stewart’s Melville College – where he gained a C in Drama and failed Biology.

He stumbled upon the American Academy of Dramatic Arts while searching for drama schools on the internet and was attracted by the entry requirements – a short essay and an audition.

The two year degree was funded by a $14,000 (8,500) scholarship.

Since graduation, Mr Cannon has turned down the opportunity to be cast in a Broadway show, preferring instead to return to Scotland, where he hopes to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe.

He is then looking to continue studying in London, possibly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art or at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

“You couldn’t be a lawyer or a doctor after two years’ training.’ He said.

“I think it is important to gain a sense of perspective. I don’t think I would do myself justice without further education.

“The training I’ve had is never going to go away. It’s about keeping the creative muscle excercised. “

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts was founded in 1884 as the first conservatoire for actors in the English-speaking world.

Jehlinger was one of the first graduates and went on to teach stars such as Edward G Robinson, Rosalind Russel, Grace Kelly, Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas.