She began acting in the late 1990s, and after a series of roles in B movies such as Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998) and Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000), she broke into the Hollywood mainstream with an appearance in Training Day (2001). Mendes has worked as a spokesmodel for Cocio chocolate milk, Magnum ice cream, Revlon make-up, Calvin Klein underwear and perfume, Cartier jewelery, Thierry Mugler perfume, Reebok trainers, Campari apéritif, Pantene shampoo, Morgan clothes and Peek & Cloppenburg clothes. Mendes is the creator of a home decor line, Vida, sold exclusively at Macy ’s. Mendes was raised a Roman Catholic and aspired to be a nun. She studied acting under Ivana Chubbuck.