Bowman was born in Walnut Creek, California. Bowman began acting in community theater, and commercials, and appeared as Darcy on The Road Home.
After guest appearances on Boy Meets World, NYPD Blue and Baywatch, Bowman assumed the role of Colleen Cooper on the popular drama Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman in season 4/1995. She took over this role after the original portrayer, Erika Flores, did not renew her contract. Bowman won the Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Series at the Young Artists Awards in 1996 for her role as Colleen. She was also nominated in 1997 and 1998. She won the Michael Landon Award in 1996, along with Beth Sullivan, Tim Johnson, Chad Allen and Shawn Toovey, for Outstanding Family Television series of the year. After Dr. Quinn was cancelled in 1998, Bowman starred in Someone to Love Me, playing a rape victim who struggles to prove her rapist's guilt.