A natural athlete throughout high school and Miss Fort Worth USA winner, Shahi joined the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleading squad for the 1999-2000 season, appearing on the cover of their 2000 calendar.
After playing bit parts in shows like Alias and Dawson's Creek, Sarah's break came when in her role as fan favorite character Carmen de la Pica Morales on Showtime's "L-Word" in 2004. When asked about the role by AskMen.com, Shahi said,"As far as the lesbian aspect goes, it's also pretty similar in the fact that I... dabbled in it myself for a while. Also, I live in L.A., I have friends who go to gay bars, I hang out in those places. So that part came very natural to me, because of my own experiences."