first role was in the 1982 film Let's Do It! That same year, she landed roles on T.J. Hooker and Family Ties. In 1983, Russell's breakout role came as Jordan Leigh-Jenson in the sex comedy, Private School. While shooting the film Avenging Angel, she was offered to audition for the 1985 film Silverado but turned it down. She said in an interview, "Everything happens for a reason. I always believe my career would have been different had I done that part. I can’t say if it would have been better or worse. I’ve had a good run". She went on to star in a series of B movies in the 1980s including Tomboy, and Cheerleader Camp. In addition to films, Russell also appeared on The A-Team, Murder, She Wrote, 1st & Ten, and an episode of Superboy, which was a reunion with her Tomboy co-star Gerard Christopher.
After a brief retirement from acting, Russell appeared in a small role in Saw III playing John Kramer's ex-wife, Jill Tuck. She went on to star in the sequels, Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI, and Saw 3D. She played a role in the 2010 film Chain Letter, the SyFy film Mandrake and My Trip Back to the Dark Side.