The film jobs were few and far between. She was little more than a glorified extra in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and played a nurse in Penny Marshall's "Awakenings" (1990). Gorham was Luis Guzman's date in the crime drama "Carlito's Way" (1993), then was spotted by a casting agent in the stage show "El Barrio, USA" and cast as a demented immigrant in Mira Nair's Cuban-American romance "The Perez Family" (1995). That same year, Gorham was finally found her breakthrough role. In Wayne Wang's loosely woven, episodic "Smoke," she played Violet, performing a seven-minute scene with William Hurt and Harvey Keitel, blazing through the screen like a modern-day Lupe Velez. The role was expanded for the "Smoke" prequel "Blue in the Face" (also 1995), which, unfortunately, was considered self-indulgent and rambling. Gorham had good supporting roles as one of the cleaning crew in "Curdled" (1996), a dark comedy about the business of mopping up after murders, and in the romantic comedy "Wishful Thinking" (1997), alongside Drew Barrymore and Jon Stewart.