Moore moved to New York City after graduating, and worked as a waitress. After registering her stage name with Actors' Equity, she began her career in 1985 with off-Broadway theatre. Her first screen role came in 1985, in an episode of the soap opera The Edge of Night. Her break came the following year, when she joined the cast of As the World Turns. Playing the dual roles of half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes, she found this intensive work to be an important learning experience, and she said of it fondly: "I gained confidence and learned to take responsibility. " Moore performed on the show until 1988, when she won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series. Before leaving As the World Turns, she had a role in the 1987 CBS miniseries I'll Take Manhattan. Once she had finished the soap opera, she turned to the stage to play Ophelia in a Guthrie Theater production of Hamlet opposite Željko Ivanek. The actress returned intermittently to television over the next three years, appearing in the TV movies Money, Power, Murder (1989), The Last to Go (1991), and Cast a Deadly Spell (1991).