30th Anniversary: Actress’ first public exposure came in Saanich News

Shelley Hird (nee Devuyst) appeared in the Saanich News at age seven after winning a contest

Shelley Hird appears in a commercial for Canadian Tire. Hird was first featured as a seven-year-old in the Saanich News.

Shelley Hird appears in a commercial for Canadian Tire. Hird was first featured as a seven-year-old in the Saanich News.

Almost 30 years after appearing in the Saanich News, Shelley Hird (nee Devuyst) can look back on a career that has taken her to Hollywood and back.

Hird was seven-and-a-half years old when she appeared on Page 9 of the edition published during the week of Feb. 18-25, 1987.

Wearing a white dress, Hird appears in the photo proudly showing off the cake that she had won courtesy of Baskin Robbins through a promotional contest titled Pie in the Sky. Hird said she does not remember much about winning the cake and said she was initially unsure about what to make off the picture after she had received it as part of the story pitch from the Saanich News.

But a quick call to her mother Lori confirmed the authenticity of the photo.

“My mom actually remembered it,” she said over the phone from Vancouver. “She knew exactly when I called.”

In fact, Hird believes that her mother must have known that she was going to be in the paper, because she dressed her up, and it is likely that Hird’s mother kept a clipping of the actual picture.

If so, it could be argued that the picture represents Hird’s first promotional photo, because seven years later, Hird left Saanich for the Los Angeles campus of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, whose alumni include a veritable list of current and past Hollywood stars and legends.

One year later, Hird shot her first commercial, a spot for Canadian Tire. The shooting location? Broadmead Village, with Hird playing the role of a student driver.

Not even 20 years old, Hird moved to Vancouver to attend the Vancouver Film School and break into the industry.

Her credits were modest, but interesting. She worked on the cult television series Stargate Atlantis and with German-born cult director Uwe Boll, who recently retired from film making, now pursuing a career as a restaurant owner.

As part of her film career, Hird also worked as a stand-in for “basically, anyone who was really tall and blond,” including Battleship Galactica star Tricia Helfer, Splash star Daryl Hannah and Academy-Award winner Charlize Theron.

Hird has also met American character actor Kevin Bacon, which of course means that Hird is part and parcel of the cult parlour game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, during which movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between any actor and Bacon.

Hird left movies about eight years ago to open the Vancouver location of Artina’s Jewellery. Hird’s family had purchased the Victoria-based store in 1999, where Hird had helped out whenever she could.

Now based in the Lower Mainland, Hird lives with her four-year-old and her husband in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove neighbourhood, an area that reminds Hird a lot of the family-friendly atmosphere she enjoyed while growing up with her parents and sister Michelle.

In fact, she remembers her childhood fondly, which included working as a carrier for the Saanich News, alongside her sister.

“It was a wonderful place to grow up,” she said.

 

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