Sarah Paulson is an American actress, currently best known for her multiple roles—in all six seasons—on the FX anthology series, American Horror Story, as well as her role as OJ Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark on The People Vs. OJ Simpson: An American Crime Story. Paulson has also appeared in a number of critically-acclaimed films, most notably 12 Years A Slave and the 2015 drama Carol. Her work earned her numerous awards nominations, including a recent Emmy and Television Critics Association Award. Before her launch into the contemporary spotlight, she appeared on stage and in several minor roles on television. She also head-lined the short-lived series American Gothic.


Sarah Catharine Paulson was born on December 17, 1974 (Sarah Paulson age: 48) in Tampa, Florida, to Catharine Dolcater and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She has a younger sister, Liz Paulson, who is a casting director. Paulson lived in South Tampa until the age of five, when her mother left Paulson’s father and moved her young daughters to Queens, N.Y. An aspiring writer, Catharine Dolcater waited tables at Sardi’s while taking writing classes (Paulson’s father was an executive at a door manufacturing company). After a brief move to the Gramercy neighborhood in Manhattan, the family settled down in Park Slope, Brooklyn when Paulson was in the seventh grade. She attended the private school Berkeley Carroll, where she discovered her love for acting. Prompted by her teachers, Paulson would go on to attend Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the performing arts and later the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Shortly after graduation, Paulson made her professional debut understudying for Amy Ryan in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig on Broadway and booked a guest spot on Law & Order.  At the time, she revealed to the New York Times that she idolized Julia Roberts, and wanted to be as glamorous a leading lady as her role model.

Sarah Paulson Bio: SUCCESS ON STAGE

Paulson soon discovered she had a knack for being a character actress and began to depart from her goal of becoming the next Roberts, taking on more eccentric characters. Her next big role in the theater would come in 2005, playing Laura Wingfield in Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie. This also marked the first time having future co-star Jessica Lange as a scene partner. Despite her increased success with film and television, Paulson has maintained a career on stage. In 2010, she starred alongside Linda Lavin in Donald Margulies’s Collected Stories. In 2013, she appeared in Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly. 


Paulson’s break onto the small screen began with minor roles. She had a small part on the hit HBO series Deadwood and was a focal character on Nip/Tuck. Prior to these roles, Paulson also starred on American Gothic, a precursor to her current regular roles; the network canceled the show in 1996, after just one season. From 2006-2007 Paulson had a break playing Harriet Hayes on Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. She garnered a Golden Globe  nomination in 2007 for her performance.

Paulson played a devout Christian woman on the show, which focused on the making of a comedy series. Speaking to the New York Times about Paulson, Sorkin gushed about her. “She’s effortlessly tough,” Mr. Sorkin said. “She’s always honest, there’s never a false note. She’s warm, sexy, incredibly funny and very, very smart. There’s no such thing as ‘a Sarah Paulson type.’” Other small roles throughout the years include Meredith Grey’s mother on

Other small roles throughout the years included Meredith Grey’s mother on Grey’s Anatomy. Paulson also co-starred on another short-lived series in 2009, Cupid, starring alongside Bobby Cannavale. It was canceled after only six episodes.


American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy first met Paulson on his show, Nip/Tuck. Murphy told the New York Times that he enjoyed her impersonations of Kathleen Turner and Holly Hunter. In 2011, Paulson guest-starred in three episodes of the inaugural season of the AHS franchise: Murder House. She played psychic Billie Dean Howard. Paulson has since returned in each subsequent season, playing larger recurring or leading roles. She played 60’s lesbian journalist Lana Winters on Asylum; witch and headmistress Cordelia Fox on Coven; conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler on Freak Show; and most recently Audrey Tindall/Shelby Miller on Roanoke. Paulson’s role on American Horror Story earned the actress four Emmy nomination for the respective parts.

With the increasing popularity of anthology series on television, Murphy spearheaded a new twist on the format with American Crime Story, focusing the inaugural season on the trial of OJ Simpson and its infamous prosecutor, Marcia Clark. Paulson took on the task of playing Clark on The People V. OJ Simpson, and at the request of Murphy, did not seek out the true-life figure until after the show completed filming. She went to great lengths to accurately portray the much-beleaguered lawyer, going as far as to research the perfume she wore during the trial (Lancôme’s Magie Noire). Paulson’s turn as Clark was critically praised in 2016, and she won her first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, in addition to the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama.

In 2018, Paulson starred in Ocean’s 8, alongside a predominantly female cast including Sandra Bullock, Rihanna and Anne Hathaway. She was featured in the film Bird Box, which came out that same year, and also costarred Bullock. Since then she has starred in two 2020 horror films, Run and Ratched.

Sarah Paulson Bio: INDIE FILM STAR

Paulson has also more recently made a big impact on film, appearing in several critically acclaimed dramas in the past few years alone. In 2012, she acted alongside Matthew McConaughey in MudThe following year, she played sadistic plantation wife Mary Epps in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years A Slave, for which she earned a Screen Actors Guild Award. She played Abby Gerhard alongside Cate Blanchett in the 2015 drama Carol.

Paulson has not shied away from smaller, indie productions. In 2011, she played Martha Lewis’s (Elizabeth Olsen) sister Lucy, who helps her after an escape from an abusive cult in Martha Marcy May Marlene. Paulson revealed to uInterview that what attracted her to the part was the realness of the screenwriting. “The script, I thought it was a very true depiction of what two sisters would go through if they had really been estranged,” she said. “You could feel, even on the page, the awkwardness and the difficulty they had re-engaging with each other… It wasn’t overwritten.” She also starred alongside Mark Duplass in Blue Jay as his estranged childhood girlfriend.


Paulson, as of 2015, currently dates actress Holland Taylor, who is 32 years her senior. On the age gap, she told the New York Times that she likes having older partners. “There’s a poignancy to being with someone older,” she said. “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.” In that same interview, she attributed this attraction to those in her life who made her feel taken care of. “I had a complicated home life, and my teachers, predominantly my theater teachers and my English teachers, were very dedicated to taking care of me in a particular way,” she said. “And in doing so, I think I developed a very easy rapport with people older than myself.”

Paulson formerly dated actress Cheryl Jones from 2004 to 2009. She engaged playwright 2004 to 2009 Tracy Letts, prior to whom she had only dated men.

Like many celebrities, Sarah Paulson has supported a number of causes. This includes bringing clean water to the Adi Kliew Community in Ethiopia, Heifer International, Planned Parenthood and Unicef.

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