Having worked extensively in the fashion industry, working as a model and contributing editor to such publications as Mirabella and New York, Ross made her big screen debut in "Far Harbor" (1996), an independent feature that cast her as a Jewish/African-American mixed race woman. While the character's background was similar to her own, she did, of course, actually have to act in the film and embraced the opportunity to immerse herself in this fictional character, receiving positive reviews for her transformation. The following year she debuted as host of "The Dish", a Lifetime TV magazine series keeping tabs on popular culture. Hosting segments and reviewing various offerings in print, film and television, Ross proved a capable and highly watchable presenter. Her next small screen appearance was in the 1998 NBC movie drama "Race Again Fear: A Moment of Truth Movie", playing a former high school track star who remained silent about her abuse at the hands of a coach. A role in the odd independent feature "Sue" (1998) predated Ross' first studio film, Diane Keaton's "Hanging Up" (2000). Here she played the less-than-effective assistant of Meg Ryan's character. She was used to greater effect in the MTV series "The Lyricist Lounge Show", a hip-hop variety series mixing music, dramatic sketches and comedic skits. Reliable and quick-witted with excellent comic timing, Ross shone in segments pairing her with Heather McDonald, the two playing ridiculously two-faced, back-stabbing girlfriends. More supportive where the titular pals in her next series "Girlfriends" (2000- ), a UPN sitcom centering around four young African-American women. Here she played Joan, a successful lawyer looking for love.