One of the most exciting faces of the New German Cinema, the 24 year-old Potente made her film debut in 1995 in Christian Schmid's It's a Jungle Out Here, for which she won the 1996 Bavarian Film Prize for Young Talent. She studied at the Otto Falkenberg Schule in Munich and at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institue in New York. In 1997 she appeared in Doris Dorrie's Am I Beautiful? and Urs Egger's Opernball. In 1998 she was voted one of the German Shooting Stars award from the European Film Promotion.