In 1997, Aya Ueto participated in the 7th All-Japan National Young Beauty contest, where she received a special award from the judges. Her discovery led to many TV commercial deals, which would eventually start her acting career. In 1999, she formed the J-pop band Z-1 with Mami Nejiki, Mai Fujiya, and Manami Nishiwaki. They released five singles before breaking up, but Aya went on to start a solo career when she signed with Pony Canyon two years later. She released her first single, "Pureness," in 2002. It peaked at #4 on the Oricon charts and became the first female artist debut single in 3 years and 3 months to enter the Top 5 since Kyoko Fukada. Since then, she has released thirteen singles and six albums. Throughout her soon to be five year old solo musical career she has collaborated with the likes of Tetsuro Oda, RYOJI (from Ketsumeishi), Toshihiko Takamizawa (from The Alfee), Toko Furuuchi and Suguru Shimabukuro (from Begin). Aya began her acting career in May 1999 in the movie "Killer of Paraiso". In 2000 she received her first role in a drama, Namida wo Fuite. In 2001, she played a part in Kinpachi-sensei, and her performance greatly boosted her popularity. She starred in several later dramas, including Koukou Kyoushi 2003, Hitonatsu no Papa e, and Ace o Nerae!. She also ventured into the big screen in famed film director Ryuhei Kitamura's 2003 blockbuster Azumi and in its sequel, Azumi 2: Death or Love in 2005.She is often said to physically resemble Japanese star Momoe Yamaguchi and to be one of the biggest idols around today. She is often mentioned as "super idol". As of 2006, Aya Ueto remains ubiquitous in Japan, appearing constantly on magazines and in commercials.