Winokur won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in Hairspray. She had previously appeared on Broadway as "Pink Lady Jan" in the revival of Grease.
Winokur has also played roles in films such as American Beauty, Never Been Kissed, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Scary Movie, Beautiful Girl (for ABC Family), Fever Pitch and most recently on Dancing with the Stars (U.S. season 6).
Winokur co-stared on the TV series Stacked, which starred Pamela Anderson.Stacked ran for only 19 episodes, 5 of which never appeared on air. She also appeared on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where she lost a physical fight with Larry David over the first appointment at a doctor's office. She was called Marissa Winokur in the episode, but was credited simply as Woman In Elevator.
She is set to star in a new comedy pilot for CBS titled Fugly from the creator of My Name Is Earl.