Ramya made her acting debut in the 2003 Kannada-language film Abhi, opposite Puneet Rajkumar. She subsequently starred in several Kannada films alongside lead actors and, following successive commercial successes, established herself as one of the most sought-after actresses in the Kannada film industry, becoming referred to as the “Golden Girl of Kannada cinema”and ‘Sandalwood Queen’. Based on an online poll conducted by The Times of India, Ramya won the Best Actor Female award for Sanju Weds Geetha. She won Filmfare Best Actress Award twice for her roles in Tananam Tananam (2006) and Sanju Weds Geetha (2011) films. She also won Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actress for Sanju Weds Geetha (2011).
In 2011, she entered politics by joining the Indian Youth Congress. She became a member of parliament from Mandya constituency in Karnataka after winning the by-election in 2013, becoming the youngest Member of Parliament in India at the time.