Adrienne was born in Queens, New York and raised on Long
Island. She began performing when she was about 10 at a
performing arts camp. Adrienne Shelly made her professional
debut in a summer stock production of the musical Annie while a
student at Jericho High School in Jericho, New York. She went on
to Boston University, majoring in film production, but dropped
out after her junior year and moved to Manhattan. Adrienne's
career breakthrough came in her starring roles in independent
filmmaker Hal Hartley's The Unbelievable Truth (1989) and Trust
(1990), the latter of which was nominated for the Grand Jury
Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, where Hartley's script tied
for the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
Adrienne Shelly appeared in a number of films during the 1990s, and as she segued toward a behind-the-camera career she wrote and directed others, including 1999's I'll Take You There, in which she appeared along with Ally Sheedy. She won a U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Film Discovery Jury Award in 2000 for direction of the film, and Prize of the City of Setúbal: Special Mention, at the Festróia (Tróia International Film Festival) held in Setúbal, Portugal for best director.
Adrienne Shelly also guest-starred in a number of television series including Law & Order, Oz and Homicide: Life on the Street. Adrienne played major roles in over two dozen Off Broadway plays, often at Manhattan's Workhouse Theater. In 2005 she co-starred in the film Factotum with Matt Dillon. Her last known work was writing and directing the unreleased film Waitress, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, which she had submitted to the Sundance Film Festival for consideration.
Adrienne, who took her professional surname after her late father Shelly M. Levine's given name, was married to Andrew Ostroy, the chairman and CEO of the marketing firm Belardi/Ostroy ALC. They had a daughter, Sophie, who was two years old at the time of Shelly's death.
About 5:45 p.m on November 1, 2006, Adrienne's husband found her hanging by a bedsheet from a shower rod in the bathtub of an Abingdon Square apartment in the West Village section of Manhattan's Greenwich Village, in what appeared to be a suicide. Shelly, who lived in Tribeca, used the apartment as an office and sublet it as a domicile to a friend. Ostroy had dropped her off between 10 and 10:30 a.m. that day, and as the building's doorman told journalists, "He hadn't heard from her and he said it was odd not to hear from her, so he was nervous. And he asked me to go up to the apartment with him, so we went to the front door, and it was unlocked".
An autopsy was performed the following day. The New York City Police Department were suspicious of sneaker prints in the bathtub that did not match Shelly's shoes, who was found wearing only socks. Adrienne's husband also indicated that there was money missing from Shelly's wallet. He also vigorously denied allegations that she could have committed suicide.
Press reports on November 6, 2006 stated that police had arrested construction worker Diego Pillco, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Ecuador, who allegedly confessed to killing Adrienne after she complained about the noise he was making in the apartment below hers. Police said Pillco had made videos implicating himself in the murder, and as of November 7 was being held without bail for her murder. Saying that he "was having a bad day," Pillco has confessed to the murder.
In order to honor the memory of his wife, Andrew Ostroy decided to create a non-profit foundation that will benefit female filmmakers. Ostroy's announcement of his intentions to create this foundation was made thirteen days after his wife's murder.
On November 29, 2006, a group of immigration activists affiliated with New Yorkers For Immigration Control and Enforcement staged a silent vigil outside of the apartment complex in which Adrienne Shelly was murdered in order to highlight their opposition to illegal immigration, and by extension, the perceived laxity with which illegal aliens-such as the individual accused of killing Shelly-navigate our allegedly porous immigration system.
Writing and Directing
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