Our U of S alumni have made their mark all over the world. As we celebrate our centennial year, we want to highlight the accomplishments of our graduates.
Check in for monthly Q&As with alumni from all the U of S colleges, as we sit down to talk about their life after the U of S and how being on this campus shaped their careers.
For the first in the Alumni Highlights series, we caught up with Kim Coates (BA’81), actor featured in several movie and TV series, including star of the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy.
Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?
Seriously, I don’t feel a year over 33 …well some days 43. So much has changed since I graduated from the U of S in 1981. When I go back to Saskatoon now, I like to jog around campus and I get the feeling of change for sure. It’s a lot bigger now especially around the perimeter. The roads were simple in the early 80s but now you actually need a map. I still think we need an archway; a true entrance to that amazing place.
What’s one of your favorite memories you had outside of the classroom?
How about Lady Godiva?* The lovable battle between engineers and agros was so palpable for me. One of my best buds is Murray Totland** (who basically runs Saskatoon now; beautifully I might add). I was always out with the College of Engineering so I was hip to all the crazy events.
Overall, how was your U of S experience?
IT WAS THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE. It gave me the path I’m walking on now. It gave me the courage to learn about Shakespeare, Sheppard and Tennessee Williams. I stumbled into acting and in a way acting found me. I’ve never been afraid to fail, and I trace that all the way back to my drama days at the U of S.
How did going to the U of S shape your career as an actor?
It was everything. I acted in about 25 productions over a four year period – that is totally off the charts and unheard of at other places. My pals in drama and I produced two years of summer stock theatre right on campus to go along with the school calendars. I’ll never forget it. We even travelled to Europe and won a Fringe First award for the play Creeps.
In my position now, I travel all over the world doing movies and I am constantly asked about my time at the U of S. I never stop sharing my memories of how it all began.
Thank you Tom Kerr and the faculty of drama way back when.
What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?
Where the closest bathroom was. But seriously, I was pretty much in awe of the entire place. I entered the campus wanting to be a history teacher and I left four years later as a professional actor. I’m glad I was naive enough and green enough (go Riders!!) to be open to everything. I loved that place; loved the bowl, loved Louis, loved the old Hangar Building***, and so much more.
The only thing I don’t miss is the winters (blame Los Angeles for that).
*Lady Godiva was an old U of S welcome back tradition where a lady would parade around the bowl on a horse, all while naked.
** Murray Totland (ME’79. MBA ’92) is Saskatoon’s current city manager.
***Erected as a “temporary” facility post-WWII, the Hangar outlived its critics and became a place for students to gather and take classes until the 80s.