CARBONDALE — If you thought you saw a familiar face in a recent commercial, you might be right.
Shi Ne Nielson, a 1999 Glenwood Springs High School alumna, is currently appearing in an advertisement for Radio Shack.
“Heist vs. Heist” follows a pretty familiar formula: A helpful sales clerk portrayed by Nielson interacts with a couple of potential customers who are comically wowed by a new piece of tech.
In most such commercials, the salesperson is an actor just like the customers, with little or no prior experience with the company they represent. Nielson is an exception. Her parents owned and operated a Radio Shack in Carbondale for many years.
“They’re looking to see if the look of the performer is what they’d like [representing] their company and if they bring a unique personality to the audition that inspires them to hire,” Nielson said of the process. “I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I had all that built-in history with the place.”
Jackie and Cory Nielson opened up shop in the City Market Shopping Center in 1990, and they were still operating when Shi Ne graduated high school and moved to Los Angeles.
“My brother and I basically grew up in that Radio Shack,” Nielson reflected.
They eventually changed the store’s name to the “Gadgit Shack,” and continued to operate the electronics outlet until the pair retired in 2011. Cory now trains horses and works on his classic car, while Jackie spends her summers hiking and her winters on skis and snowshoes.
Shi Ne’s brother is in New York, married with two kids.
Shi Ne, meanwhile, has landed roles in a host of television programs, as well as a handful of commercials and short films. Her resumé includes several high profile shows, from “CSI: NY” to “Grey’s Anatomy.” Besides Radio Shack, she’s also appearing in a Samsung commercial and an episode of “Chasing Life,” which will air later this year. Even so, “Heist vs. Heist” is the gig she thinks is worth writing home about. She says the personal connection makes it feel “extra special.”
“All has come full circle,” Nielson said, “It’s been an interesting journey.”
The adjustment from small town Colorado to Hollywood wasn’t immediate.
“I really think it took the better part of five years for me to really, fully acclimate to living here,” she said during a telephone interview from Los Angeles.
Even now, she hasn’t forgotten her roots. She still visits a couple times a year and roots for the Broncos in fair weather and foul.
“Coloradans are proud and loyal folks and I have always been a Colorado girl through and through,” she said.