Ryder was born in Edmonton, Alberta and attended the University of Toronto, where she began acting. She formed a local theatre group, Bald Ego Productions, in Toronto after graduation and landed her first film and television roles in the mid-1990s (such as a cameo in Babylon 5). She starred in many theater productions, including "Put Me Away," a one-woman show she wrote herself. She gained a following as Detective Tracy Vetter on the final season of the science fiction drama Forever Knight in 1995-1996, and was cast on the syndicated science-fiction series Andromeda in 2000; the series ended in 2005 after 110 episodes. She also co-starred as android Kay-Em 14 in the 2001 movie Jason X.