I always thought of Shelly as an important part of the New York independent film scene, not just for her Hartley roles, which were her first, but also because she never really broke into Hollywood despite all the buzz she received in the early '90s. She called New York home and even titled her first directorial feature Sudden Manhattan. Her second film, I'll Take You There won her a best director award at the U.S. Comedy Festival, and her third, Waitress, which stars Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, just recently finished shooting. As far as acting, she'd recently appeared in Factotum, but she was more interested in focusing on writing and directing, and taking care of her 3-year-old daughter. It is unfortunate that we'll never get to see how successful her filmmaking career could have been.
Shelly was waiting to hear whether or not Waitress would screen at Sundance in January when she died. I'd like to suggest that the festival not only give the film a slot, but also give her a special tribute of some kind as well.
UPDATE: Shelly was reportedly murdered.