She served as a deputy representative in the Norwegian Parliament from Sør-Trøndelag during the terms 2001–2005 and 2005–2009. During the entire first term she sat as a regular representative, replacing Børge Brende, who was appointed to the second cabinet Bondevik. She again returned to a parliamentary seat when Brende was employed by the World Economic Forum.
Hofstad was a member of Trondheim city council from 1999 to 2001.
Since 16 December 2015 she has been Minister of Culture in Solberg's Cabinet.
Hofstad Helleland was in December 2016 elected vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency representing governments in WADAs Foundation Board and Executive Committee.
She is married to Trond Helleland.