Jaroslava Pokorná is the daughter of the writer, translator, theatrologist and dramaturge Jaroslav Pokorný (1920–1983) and the translator Marie Pokorná (1922–1969). While studying at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, from which she graduated in 1968, she appeared as a guest at the Vinohrady Theatre in Prague and the Zdeněk Nejedlý Realistic Theatre, for which she worked for almost a quarter of a century (1968–1991). Following its transformation into the Labyrint theatre, she remained with the company until 1998. Since 1998, she has performed on stages in Prague (the Řeznická and Dejvice theatres), served as a prompter at the Theatre in Dlouhá, worked for the Duha charity, and also appeared at the theatres in Kladno, Příbram, as well as the Husa na provázku in Brno. She was a dance tutor at the PrimaryArtSchool in Prague-Modřany, and after completing her postgraduate studies (under the guidance of Ivan Vyskočil), she assumed the post of drama lecturer at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
At the beginning of her career, Jaroslava Pokorná mainly portrayed comic roles of ebullient girls, later on she was assigned psychologically complex characters. She is a master of improvisation. She has performed in classical plays (The Seagull, The Taming of the Shrew, The Cherry Orchard, The Servant of Two Masters, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Bagpiper of Strakonice), as well as in the modern repertoire (Lovers from the Kiosk, Redevelopment). She has excelled in portraying mature women at Prague’s Divadlo v Dlouhé theatre (Wyrd Sisters, A Lie of the Mind, The Mousetrap), where she works today. In 2005, she received the prestigious Czech Alfréd Radok Prize for her performance in the role of Hedvig in the production of The Wild Duck. She has also appeared in films, TV productions, series and fairy tales.