Yıldız Kenter was born in Istanbul. After her graduation from the Ankara State Conservatory, she worked in the Ankara State Theatre for 11 years. She won a Rockefeller Scholarship and studied new techniques in acting and acting education at the American Theatre Wing, Neighborhood Play House and Actor’s Studio. 

Kenter was appointed to the Ankara State Conservatory as a lecturer. She left the State Theatre in 1959 and worked with Muhsin Ertuğrul for a year. She founded Kent Oyuncuları (Kent Actors) with her brother Müşfik Kenter and her husband Şükran Güngör. Later, she studied changing methods of education and methods of acting in the US and UK. She worked as an educator and the department head at Ankara State Conservatory, Istanbul Municipality Conservatory and Istanbul University’s State Conservatory’s theatre departments. 

In 1962, Kenter was awarded as “the woman of the year” due to her contributions to theatre. She was also awarded Altın Portakal Cinema Award three times. Kenter has acted in many plays in Russia, the US, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Yugoslavia and Cyprus in English and Turkish. 

She has performed in more than 100 plays of famous writers such as Shakespeare, Chekhov, Brecht, Ionesco, Pinter, Albee, Tennessee Williams, Alan Ayckbourn, Arthur Miller, Brian Dreil, Neil Simon, Athol Dugard, Serfey Koovkin, Melih Cevdet Anday, Necati Cumalı, Güner Sümer, Adalet Ağaoğlu, Zeki Özturanlı, Güngör Dilmen and Muzaffer İzgü. She was honoured as a State Artist in 1981. In 1984, she received the Adalaide Ristori award from the Italian Cultural Association in Rome. 

In 1989, She received Best Actress Award at the Corsica-Bastia Film Festival. In 1991, she was awarded with the Melvin Jones by the International Lions Club. She received “the best actress” in the Ulvi Uraz Prize two times and Avni Dilligil award three times. She was honored as one of the most successful 100 women in the 21st century by the Central Organization of Women′s Associations in Finland. In 1995, she received an Honorary Award from Turkish Republic’s Ministry of Culture. She received the Mevlana Brotherhood and Peace Award in 1995, and the Best Actress Award for her acting in Ramiz and Jülide in 1996. In 1997, she received the Istanbul Theatre Festival’s Honorary Award from Dame Diana Rigg. 

Her awards also include the Woman Artist of the Year award in 1998 be Ankara Art Institution, 1998 Muhsin Ertuğrul Lifetime Achievement Award, the Grand Prize for Culture and Arts of the Turkish Presidency in 1998, and the Afife Best Actress Award in 1999. 

On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the foundation of Kent Oyuncuları, she put Ben Anadolu on stage again. She continued educating new theatre artists at Koç University. She celebrated her 60th year in the arts with directing Victoria in 2008-2009 season. In 2010, she received the "Best Successful Actress of the Year" in the 15th Sadri Alışık Film and Theatre Awards for the play Queen Lear that she acted with the Kent Actors.

Yıldız Kenter died in 17 November 2019.