Emily Bett Rickards was born and raised on the West coast of Canada.
Beginning her career path at a young age, she introduced herself to musical theatre and dance, with the hope of later introducing herself to more serious acting. She graduated from high school early and attended the Vancouver Film School, completing the Acting Essentials Program. After completing the program, she attended an open call audition, which gained her an agent. Rickards also studied at the Alida Vocal Studio in Vancouver
Rickards appeared in the video of the Nickelback single "Never Gonna Be Alone" in 2008 and, after some minor roles, was cast as Felicity Smoak in the TV series Arrow in 2012. Originally signed as a one-episode guest star, her chemistry with star Stephen Amell coupled with positive fan reaction led to her first being signed as a recurring co-star in the rest of the first season, and then as a regular character for the second season. In the following year she landed the role of Lauren Phillips in the television movie Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story.