From 2002 until 2005, Avery had a recurring role as Candy Taylor on the situation comedy One on One and later became a cast member on the spinoff Cuts, playing the same role. Simultaneously, she was a cast member for five seasons on the first ever all-female reality/prank television series Girls Behaving Badly.
In movies, Avery played internet girlfriend 'LaFawnduh Lucas-Dynamite' in the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite and had roles in Trippin' and Domino. She also appeared in Déjà Vu with Denzel Washington, in which she was directed by Tony Scott for the second time. In 2012, Avery appeared in End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. The movie was filmed in her native South Central Los Angeles, and was written and directed by Training Day writer David Ayer.
In 2007, Avery appeared in a People Magazine "who wore it best" feature comparing her to Beyoncé in an H & M dress. In US Magazine, she was pictured with Mena Suvari attending 'Carmelo Anthony's Shoe' launch in 2008. She has also been seen at many of Macy Gray's concerts. Gray played Avery's twin sister in Domino. In 2010 she staged a high tea at Philippe Chow for friend Mo'Nique, also from Domino, in honour of her Oscar nomination. The day after the High Tea, Mo'Nique won the Oscar for her acclaimed performance in Precious. Avery helped celebrate the win when she made an appearance on the Mo'Nique show in 2010.
Avery described herself in a BETTER TV 2011 interview as the "black Meryl Streep," whom she reveres for her "out-of-the-box" projects. She has also said Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, who is also from South Central Los Angeles, has been her role model since she was 14.
Avery and her husband are producing a TV series in which she examines the differences between Africans and Americans, suggesting there should be a mediator explaining both sides. She describes her show as Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm meets The Office. Avery is in search of the right network to launch it.
Avery was born in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in South Central Los Angeles, as the oldest of 10 children. She has created a one-woman show titled "Ain't I Enough," based on her experiences growing up with her enormous family, which has aired on HBO.
She graduated from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and studied for her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Los Angeles.
Avery has been linked to many philanthropic causes. She is a children's advocate, mentoring kids at "A Place Called Home" in South Central. She's also involved with the WGA Writer's Program for teens, speaking at high schools and universities. She gives time at Los Angeles children's charity Penny Lane and is a sitting board member of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation in Los Angeles. She also works with Coach Art, a charity offering free athletic and arts training to chronically ill children.