Powles has guest-starred in dramas such as Holby City and Dalziel and Pascoe before landing a role in the unsuccessful ITV drama series Britannia High. Her character Ronnie was the only one of the main cast who was not a student at the fictional school of performing arts. "Ronnie" was created especially for Powles, as all the main cast were already in place. On the 21 May 2009, it was announced that Powles was to join soap opera Emmerdale as new character Holly Barton. Powles' appearance in Emmerdale is slightly different, due to the fact she had changed her hair colour to brown, rather than her natural blonde.
Powles' portrayal of Holly was praised significantly, especially after the character became addicted to heroin in 2010. However, Powles quit the soap towards the end of 2011, alongside her on-screen father and sister. They all departed in early 2012, with John dying a car accident, and Holly and Hannah leaving for London.
In January 2016, it was announced Powles had reprised her role of Holly full-time. However, just six months later, it was announced Powles had once again decided to quit the role. Holly was unexpectedly killed off in September 2016, after suffering another, this time fatal relapse. The character's death was praised widely, and this was key to recapturing Emmerdale's popularity, which had declined over the summer of 2016 due to "shoddy" and "annoying" storylines introduced by new series producer, Iain MacLeod.
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