Nithya Menen was born in Malayali family and studied journalism at the Manipal Institute of Communication. She enrolled for a course in cinematography at the FTII Pune. During the entrance examination, she met Nandini Reddy, who "brainwashed" and convinced her to take up acting. Vamshidhar Reddy would later turn director and sign Nithya for the lead female role in her first project.
Menen, at age 10, she performed as a child artist in the Indian English language film, The Monkey Who Knew Too Much in 1998. She debut her acting career in Kannada film 7 O' Clock directed by Kannada's top cinematographer Santosh Rai Pataje. The 2008 off-beat film Aakasha Gopuram, directed by National Film Award-winning director K. P. Kumaran, marked her Malayalam debut, in which she was paired with Mohanlal. She next made a comeback into Kannada films with the super hit film Josh. In 2011, her first release was Nandini Reddy's romantic comedy Ala Modalaindi, which was Nithya's maiden Telugu venture as well. Furthermore, she also sang two songs for the soundtrack album of the film, tuned by Kalyani Malik. She next appeared in ad-filmmaker Jayendra's bilingual venture 180/Nootrenbadhu, made and released in Tamil and Telugu. Later the year, she was seen in Sibi Malayil's Violin in Malayalam and the Gautham Menon-produced Veppam in Tamil. Her first 2012 release was the Telugu romance film Ishq and she acted in Karmayogi, a Malayalam adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. For the Kannada film Aidondla Aidu she had sung and also choreographed one of the songs, titled "Payasa". In 2013, she starred in three Telugu films, Okkadine, Jabardasth and Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde and one Kannada movie Mynaa. In 2014, she made a cameo in the Malayalam movie Bangalore Days, which became the highest grosser of that year. Her upcoming movies include Mudinja Ivana Pudi, Kotigobba 2, Janatha Garage, Iru Mugan, Ravi Varma, Ommomme, Malini 22, Yemito Ee Maya.