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Born in Calgary, Alberta, Shelley trained at RADA in London, and worked for many years in the UK. She played roles in London's West End and at the Royal National Theatre, as well as leading roles in regional theatres. She was a regular in BBC radio drama during her time in Britain, and recorded dozens of audio books – titles including work by Margaret Atwood and Jane Smiley. She played Rita in the family series, Mike and Angelo for ten years, and made guest appearances on Drop the Dead Donkey, EastEnders and Chelworth. She also played the role of Sarah's stepmother Irene Williams in Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy epic Labyrinth. She's appeared in all seasons of Trailer Park Boys, both specials, and the Feature Film.
Since returning to Canada, her work has included season at the Atlantic Theatre Festival (Ariel in the Tempest and Viola in Twelfth Night), work at the Neptune Theatre, The Prairie Theatre Exchange, The Globe Theatre, Regina, and Festival Antigonish.
Since 2012, she's been shifting focus to stage and screenwriting and directing. Her plays include plays A Kind of Faith (produced 2004) Leaving Wonderland (Premiered Halifax, 2015 ), children's plays Bluenose Billy (2006, co-written with Sheldon Currie and Griffen Prize-winning poet Anne Simpson), Belinda the Bicycle Witch (2008), Lost and Found (2009), ...And How Are We Today (co-written with poet Anne Simpson).
Recently seen on stage in: A Good Death, Be My Baby, Criminal Genius.
Her poetry has been a finalist in the Atlantic Writing Competition, and has appeared in literary journals Toward the Light and Papirmasse, and on the CBC website. Short stories have been included in anthologies and broadcast in collaboration with The Blue Engine String Quartet on CBC Radio - Christmas 2010 and 2011.
Presently shifting to writing/directing for film, she has just finished her first narrative short, DAWG (Festivals include the Atlantic Film Festival, The San Diego International Kids Film Festival, Nickle Film festival NFL and more....) Presently: working on features (Dawn Her Dad and the Tractor, Billy, Dash and Dawg, and The Benefit. In 2015 she was a resident at the Canadian Film Centre, Toronto, as a screenwriter, and in 2016 was invited to be one of eight Women In the Directors Chair (2017).
In 2018, Thompson won the WIDC's Feature Film Award, a prize which goes toward the production of a female director's debut feature film.
Thompson is a counsellor with ACTRA Maritimes, chair of the Women's Committee, and a keen advocate for LGBTQ issues.
Awards include: ACTRA Maritimes winner for (short) Two Penny Road-Kill 2013, Best Supporting Actress, LA's Love Unlimited Festival, 2011 for (short) WAKE, and Gemini, 2008, Best Ensemble, as Barb Lahey, for Trailer Park Boys. Merritt Award- Best Actress in a Leading Role- for Glorious. Several Stage nominations for: Humble Boy – Flora, Criminal Genius – Shirley, Tamara (Dora) – Aelis.