She first appeared in Coronation Street in Episode 2890 (12th December 1988) in the role of Tracy Barlow, taking over the part from Holly Chamarette who had last appeared in March of that year. Dawn had auditioned for the role along with her best friend Jenny Sixsmith and the latter, although she lost out on the part, was cast as Tracy's friend Debbie Dawson, thus fiction mirrored reality.
Dawn continued as a regular until June 1995 when she temporarily gave up the part but she did return for "guest" appearances in November 1996, December 1997 and March and October 1999 (Kate Ford took over the role when the character returned in December 2002).
In the interim Dawn had worked in a bakery she set up with her mother and in January 1998 gave birth to a son, Thomas, with her then-boyfriend Stuart West. She re-auditioned for the role of Tracy when she returned in 2002 but lost out to Kate Ford, nevertheless she has stated that she would be happy to return to the Street. She now works as a nightclub DJ. Dawn's mother Jean died of cancer in 2012, aged 56.