It’s full circle for Saskatoon’s Kim Coates.
On Tuesday, the Hollywood actor received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Saskatchewan at spring convocation – where he was certainly dressed for the part.
“I have my black shoes – representing Thornton Elementary School – I’ve got my blue suit, Nutana Collegiate, and of course I’ve got my white and green tie, go Huskies,” he said.
In a speech to graduates at TCU Place, Coates told personal stories and promoted an optimistic message for those looking to find their way.
“Follow your bliss, like I did. Follow it. And never be afraid to fail. Because if you do that, you never will fail, ever,” he said.
Coates then told the crowd how he stumbled upon his passion for acting, and the journey his career took post-graduation.
“I literally, in 1979, took my thumb over a catalogue of classes and I got to take an elective – which means anything you want almost – and I stopped on ‘d,’ and there was drama, and I went ‘hmmm,’” Coates said. “It changed my entire life.”
Over the next four years, the actor starred in more than 25 plays – his first role being Balthasar in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
“It’s five minutes to go, I’ve got my little sabre sword here we go, and a door flies open and I hear, ‘Coatsy, Coatsy, Coatsy,’” the actor recalled. “There was eight or nine of my football buddies who came storming in.”
Coates has gone on to become an acclaimed Hollywood actor appearing in more than 100 movies and TV series.
He’s best known for his role as Tig in the TV show Sons of Anarchy, and has acted in several major motion pictures including Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbour.
During his speech, Coates divulged he never wanted to be a regular actor on a television series, but decided to take on Sons of Anarchy.
He acknowledged the show’s popularity has led to a certain level of celebrity. He talked openly about how he chooses to use fame as a way to raise money for numerous charities.
“I’ll never give up that fight to continue the growth of art, because without art we really don’t have anything,” said Coates, who often returns to Saskatoon to support various charitable causes.
The actor isn’t the only former U of S graduate being honoured by the university this week. Hockey star Haley Wickenheiser will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws on Thursday.