An Iowa native and Hollywood actor, best known for his role on the long-running T-V show “7th Heaven,” will be back in his home state this weekend to give a commencement address. Stephen Collins says he wants to speak to the graduates in southeast Iowa about what he calls counter-culturalism, specifically, how it’s considered not normal to eat healthy.
“It’s difficult, if you’re watching television, to find an advertisement for a food product that’s really good for you,” Collins says. “It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. Various companies would take me to task on that but to me it’s counter-cultural to be really careful about what you eat.”
The 62-year-old Collins will speak at the graduation ceremony on Saturday in Fairfield at Maharishi University of Management. Collins practices transcendental meditation and says many people consider it counter-cultural to take care of their bodies and not to over-medicate themselves.
Collins starred as Reverend Eric Camden in all 241 episodes of “7th Heaven,” the longest-running TV series on the WB network. It ran from 1996 to 2007. “I loved doing 7th Heaven and I’m proud of it and I’m proud of our wonderful long run,” Collins says. “Whenever I kick off, it’ll probably be in the first sentence, if not the first paragraph of any obituary anybody writes about me, but that’s okay. I have done a lot of other things, but when you do something that runs 11 years, it changes people’s idea about who you are.”
Over three-and-a-half decades, Collins has appeared in more than 60 movies and TV shows, and is now starring in the new ABC series, “No Ordinary Family.” Collins was born in Des Moines, grew up in New York and now lives in Los Angeles — but still considers himself an Iowan.
“I love saying that I’m from Iowa because my mother’s family goes back in Iowa for many, many generations and is kind of a venerable Iowan family,” Collins says. “My great-great-grandfather was a fellow named James B. Weaver who was a Civil War general and a member of Congress and ran for president twice as a third-party candidate.”
Collins considers himself an actor first, but has also written two novels and is a musician. This will be his first college commencement address. Saturday’s graduation at Maharishi University will feature 235 students earning degrees, representing 41 countries.
Hear the full interview: 7th Heaven 6:20 MP3