Vijayashanti embarked on a career in acting at the early age of 15 in 1979, as the female lead in the Tamil film Kallukkul Eeram ('Stones have tears') ,directed by the legendary South Indian director, Bharati Raja.her Telugu debut occurred in the same year with the movie Kilaadi Krishnudu, opposite superstar Krishna.
In the initial years of her career, she acted mostly in roles designed to add allure to the films. Her first performance oriented role came in director T. Krishna’s 1983 Telugu film 'Neti Bharatam'. She continued to act in substantial roles in films like Desamlo Dongalu Paddaaru, Vandemaataram, Pratighatana, Repati Pourulu, Devalayam, and so on. At the same time, glamorous roles persisted as well, in films like Challenge, Desodhdhaarakudu, Pasivaadi Praanam, Muddula Krishnaiah, Agni Parvatam, and so forth. She became an exclusive Telugu film actress by 1985.
She enacted the role of a tough police inspector, modeled on the real life inspector Kiran Bedi, in the blockbuster movie 'Karthavyam' (1990). The Indian Government gave her the National Award for her stimulating performance and she also won an Andhra Pradesh State Award for best actress. Kartavyam was dubbed into Tamil as 'Vijayanthi IPS' in 1990. In Tamil Nadu also, the film was a massive success which catapulted Vijayashanti to superstardom in Tamil cinema. It was remade into a Hindi film Tejaswini, in which she herself played the lead role, and accolades in Bollywood too. After Vijayanthi IPS became a chartbuster, the producers of her Telugu films started to release Tamil versions of her films at the same time as her Telugu releases. In 1992, she acted opposite screen legend Rajanikanth in the Tamil film Mannan, which became the highest grosser of Rajanikanth’s career. The credit of the film’s success went to Vijayashanti as well, even in the male dominated Tamil film industry. Her image as a superstar started intimidating the male stars, who feared that they will be sidelined if they acted opposite her. She retained her numero uno position with runaway hits like Police-Lockup, Rowdy Inspector, Shatruvu, Mondi Mogudu - Penki Pellaam, Tejaswini, Mannan and Osey Ramulamma, in the last decade of the twentieth century. She received her fourth Andhra Pradesh State Award in 1997 for the last named film, the success of which smashed several box-office records.
Soon he ventured into politics and reduced her film assignments. However, she failed to amass much success in her stint with politics. Even at the age of 43, she is amazingly fit and might return to the silver screen with another starling performance.