She did not perform on stage until she attended Albuquerque's University of New Mexico. She initially entered the university's law program, planning to specialize in federal contracts and Native American law, but later changed her major to English. At the time, she started taking theater arts courses. After graduating, Tousey enrolled in the graduate acting program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Tousey has become a professional dancer and actress. Her first movie role was in Thunderheart (1992). Her succeeding roles have been in a variety of characters. Beginning in 2002, she has appeared in four movies adapted from Tony Hillerman mystery novels, which feature American Indians of the Southwest.