Sarah Catharine Paulson is an award-winning American actress. After beginning her acting career on stage, she starred in numerous television shows and films, such as the NBC comedy-drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, for which she received her first Golden Globe Award nomination. Paulson also starred as Mary Epps in the 2013 historical drama film 12 Years a Slave and as Abby Gerhard in the 2015 drama film Carol. Both films received widespread critical acclaim and were nominated for several Academy Awards. Most notably, Paulson has starred in the FX anthology series American Horror Story and American Crime Story, for which she is most known, and has received multiple awards for her work in the series.

She is recurring in the first season of Feud as Geraldine Page.

Early Life

Paulson was born on December 17, 1974 in Tampa, Florida, the daughter of Catharine Gordon (née Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She lived in South Tampa until she was 5, when her parents divorced. She then spent time in Maine, before moving to New York City with her mother. She lived in Queens and Gramercy Park, before settling in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She spent her summers in Florida visiting her father. Paulson attended Manhattan's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.


Paulson began working as an actress right out of high school. She appeared in the Horton Foote play Talking Pictures at the Signature Theatre, and in an episode of Law & Order in 1994. Paulson then appeared in the Hallmark film Friends at Last (1995) opposite Kathleen Turner. She went on to star in the short-lived television series American Gothic. Paulson then played Elisa Cronkite in The WB comedy-drama series Jack & Jill (1999).

Paulson had a minor role in the HBO series Deadwood and was a focal character in an episode of the critically acclaimed FX series Nip/Tuck. She next appeared in the short-lived NBC series Leap of Faith as the main character. In 2004, she had a supporting role in the ABC series The D.A., which ended after only a few episodes. Paulson then starred in a revival of The Glass Menagerie on Broadway and has appeared Off-Broadway in Killer Joe and Colder Than Here. Paulson's film credits include Down with Love, What Women Want, The Other Sister, Levitation, and Serenity.

In the 2006–2007 television season, Paulson co-starred in NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip playing Harriet Hayes, one of the stars of the show-within-a-show. This role earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. In December 2008, Paulson appeared in the screen adaptation of Will Eisner's comic book The Spirit, playing an updated version of the character Ellen Dolan.

On August 25, 2008, ABC ordered Paulson's pilot Cupid to series. It was a remake of the 1998 series starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall. In the new version, Paulson starred opposite Bobby Cannavale. It debuted in late March 2009 on ABC but was cancelled on May 19, 2009, after only six episodes. In February 2010, Paulson portrayed the circa 1982 mother of main character Meredith Grey, on the ABC drama Grey's Anatomy. She also played Nicolle Wallace in the HBO film Game Change (2012), based on events of the 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign.

In 2011, Paulson guest-starred in three episodes of the FX anthology series American Horror Story, playing medium Billie Dean Howard. Paulson returned for season two, American Horror Story: Asylum, in which she played a new character, Lana Winters, a writer who is committed to an asylum for being gay. She appeared in the third season of the series, titled American Horror Story: Coven as Cordelia Foxx, a witch who runs an academy for other young witches. She appeared in the fourth season of the show, titled American Horror Story: Freak Show, portraying conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot Tattler. She returned for the fifth season, subtitled Hotel, portraying the role of Hypodermic Sally. She also portrayed Billie Dean Howard again for the last episode of the season. Paulson went on to star in the sixth iteration of the series, subtitled Roanoke. She portrayed British actress Audrey Tindall, who appeared in the My Roanoke Nightmare documentary as tortured wife and yoga instructor Shelby Miller. For her work throughout the series, she has been nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards (2013–16) and won two Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries (2013 and 2015).

Paulson has starred in numerous critically acclaimed films. She played the role of Mary Lee in the 2012 film Mud. In 2013, she starred as Mary Epps in the historical drama film 12 Years a Slave and portrayed Abby Gerhard in the 2015 romantic drama film Carol. Both films received widespread critical acclaim and were nominated for multiple Academy Awards.

In 2016, Paulson starred in the true crime anthology series American Crime Story. She portrayed prosecutor Marcia Clark in the first season, subtitled The People v. O.J. Simpson. She received widespread praise for her performance and won multiple awards, including the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama and her first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in the series. In 2016, it was announced that Paulson would be part of the ensemble cast of the upcoming heist film Ocean's Eight. She will also be starring as Geraldine Page in the upcoming drama anthology series Feud.

Personal Life

Paulson dated actress Cherry Jones from 2004 to 2009. In an interview with in 2013, referring to her sexuality, she said "the situation is fluid for me." Prior to her relationship with Jones, she had only dated men, including playwright Tracy Letts, to whom she was engaged.

Paulson is currently dating actress Holland Taylor, who is 32 years her senior, and the pair have been together since early 2015. Paulson has confessed that she has never dated someone her own age, due to her gravitation to primarily older partners. She stated in an interview with the New York Times, "There’s a poignancy to being with someone older. I think there’s a greater appreciation of time and what you have together and what’s important, and it can make the little things seem very small."



  • Paulson is the first actor to win all five major acting awards (Emmy, TCA Individual Achievement in Drama, Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG) in a single year for the same role.
  • Her fear of flying is so severe that whenever she must travel by plane, she insists on meeting the pilot(s) just before takeoff, so she can personally be assured by them that they are adequately experienced.

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