Soon after Shannon Woodward began acting, she caught the attention of a casting director for Nickelodeon's "Clarissa Explains It All." It was Woodward's first on-screen acting job, where she played the occasionally recurring role of Missy. She reprised this role twice during the show's five seasons.
After her sitcom debut, Woodward won small parts in a trio of made-for-TV movies. First, alongside "Clarissa" star Melissa Joan Hart in the 1995 made-for-TV drama "Family Reunion: A Relative Nightmare." Then in 1995, she played Lucy in her second made-for-TV film, "Tornado!." In 1997 she played an uncredited role in the CBS miniseries "True Women."
Between 2000 and 2007, Woodward played a number of minor roles in various television shows including "The Drew Carey Show," "Grounded for Life," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Crossing Jordan," "Without a Trace," "Psych" and "Boston Public."
Woodward's big-screen debut came in 2005 when she played Emma Sharp, the daughter of Texas Ranger Roland Sharp (Tommy Lee Jones), who is assigned to protect a group of University of Texas cheerleaders who witnessed a murder in the action comedy "Man of the House."
In 2007, Woodward got her big break in the series "The Riches," which aired for two seasons (2007–2008) on cable network FX. She played the role of Di Di Malloy, the teen daughter and middle child in an American family of Irish Travellers. In the series, Di Di, along with her parents Dahlia and Wayne (Minnie Driver, Eddie Izzard), and her brothers Cael and Sam (Noel Fisher, Aidan Mitchell) find themselves personally conflicted after stealing the identity of a wealthy couple and trying to assimilate into "buffer" culture in an upscale gated community in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
After "The Riches" ended, Woodward played the role of Leah in the teen supernatural/horror film "The Haunting of Molly Hartley."
Woodward's return to TV was the 2009 pilot "Limelight," about a New York City school for performing arts. That same year, Woodward played a recurring role on NBC's "ER" in the 15th and final season as Kelly Taggart, the younger sister of nurse Samantha "Sam" Taggart. She also starred in another teen thriller "The Shortcut."
Woodward appeared in her friend Katy Perry's music video "Hot n Cold" and had a cameo role in Perry's documentary/concert film "Katy Perry: Part of Me." Perry, in turn, guest-starred in a season two episode of "Raising Hope."
In 2010, Woodward starred in the independent drama "Girlfriend." She also played the lead title character in the upcoming ensemble comedy-drama "Claire's Cambodia."
From September 2010 to April 2014 Woodward starred in the FOX sitcom "Raising Hope," which also starred Cloris Leachman and Martha Plimpton. She played Sabrina, a grocery store checkout clerk who is the love interest of Jimmy Chance, the series lead played by Lucas Neff.
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