The striking, dark-haired player performed well in the role, capably evincing the character's adolescent unease while also displaying her intelligence and perceptive humor, particularly in Sam's capacities as an honest and unflinching reporter for the school newspaper. While the series did not receive rousing critical acclaim, it generated a good deal of buzz, captured a core youth audience and landed Pope on the pages of many a teen fashion magazine, making her a most recognizable property.
On the big screen, Pope debuted in David Nutter's 1998 feature "Disturbing Behavior", a disappointing teen thriller boasting a cast filled with a veritable who's who of upcoming young talent. She could next be seen in the direct-to-video children's feature "Aliens in the Wild Wild West" (1999). More notable was the actress' television work, beginning with a 1998 appearance in the NBC movie "I've Been Waiting For You". While her role in that production was small enough to not even warrant her a real character name (credited simply as 'Cheerleader'), she would soon land a significant and memorable part in the troubling fact-based telefilm "Our Guys: Outrage in Glen Ridge" (ABC, 1999), playing Mari Ferrarez, a young woman who opportunistically befriends a mentally-challenged rape victim (Heather Matarazzo) in order to sway her testimony and protect the popular group of high school athletes accused of the heinous crime. Later that year she had a featured role in Showtime's "A Cooler Climate", playing the daughter of a couple in marital crisis. Pope was next featured as Molly in the ABC movie "Purple Haze" (2000), a cautionary tale starring Jonathan Jackson as a young man who follows the lead of his charismatic girlfriend (Pope) and succumbs to drug addiction.