Remya first appeared as a child artiste in the critically acclaimed drama film Sayahnam in 2000, directed by R. Sarath. She further essayed minor supporting roles in the following years in films including Sathyan Anthikad's satire film Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka (2001), the art film Sthithi (2002), under R. Sarath's direction again, and Gramaphone (2003) and Perumazhakkalam (2004), both directed by Kamal. She collaborated a third time with Sarath for the short film Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham (2006), a cinematic version based on a poem by O. N. V. Kurup.
She played her first leading role, as a bold dance teacher, in the 2006 film Aanachandam, a highly unsuccessful venture, which went unnoticed soon after its release. Regarding to her performance in the film, a critic from Rediff noted that she was "refreshing in bits", while another reviewer cited that she was "refreshing enough for a village based flick". Her subsequent projects, Changathipoocha and Panthaya Kozhi released to mixed reviews and offered hardly any scope for her, failing to propel her career. The next release, Chocolate, which featured Remya as one of three leading females, eventually gained her considerable attention, after the film went on to become a high commercial success. In 2008, she accepted her first non-Malayalam project, Andamaina Mansulo in Telugu, which was followed by her first Tamil film, the romantic drama Raman Thediya Seethai.
In 2011, Remya underwent an image makeover, choosing more serious roles and striving for versatility. Her first release of that year was Traffic, starring an ensemble cast. Remya portrayed Shwetha, a "stylish seductress", a character with negative shades. Although her role in the film was short, her performance came in for appreciation. She next appeared in the thriller film Chaappa Kurish as Sonia, a secretary who has an affair with her colleague. She shot a long kissing scene with her co-star Fahad Fazil in the film — supposedly the first ever in Malayalam cinema — which upon release was termed as controversial, causing a great stir in the industry. Remya later stated: "An actress should always be ready to take risks if her character demands so. Even when I was aware that the two- minute intense scene could create waves, I was sure that it was inevitable as it suited the plot. A sense of necessity made me accept that scene. I think director Sameer Tahir brought out the best in me. In fact, I enjoyed doing the scene". She was part of two Tamil productions, Ilaignan, scripted by former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi, and the romantic comedy Kullanari Koottam. She performed a comical role as Priya, a zoology student, in the latter, and received positive feedback. Pavithra Srinivasan from Rediff noted that she was "pretty, expressive, and does well with what she's been given". She next appeared in a low-budget Telugu flick by Ravi Babu, Nuvvila, featuring a cast of almost all newcomers, in which she played a "girl with a fetish for cooking".
Remya Nambeeshan was born on March 24, to Subrahmaniam Unni and Jayasree. Her father is a former theatre artiste, who was an active member of troupes such as "Jubilee" and "Harishree". She has a brother, Rahul. She studied Communicative English at the St. Teresa's College, Ernakulam. She went to MGP school in Ambadimala. Before her entry into the film industry, she was hosting a phone-in music show Hello, Good Evening on the Malayalam channel Kairali TV. Having learned carnatic music from her childhood, she has sung several numbers for devotional albums on Chottanikarai Bhagavathi Amman. In 2011, she also ventured into playback singing, lending her voice for a song from the upcoming Malayalam biopic on P. Kunhiraman Nair, Ivan Megharoopan, composed by Sharreth.