Born: December 17, 1974
Date of Birth: December 17, 1974
Sarah Catharine Paulson was born and raised in Tampa, Florida until the age of five, when her parents got divorced. Moving to New York City with her mother, Sarah lived in Queens and Gramercy Park before settling in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Along with a sister named Liz who works as a casting director, Sarah also has a paternal half-sister named Rachel, who is also an actress.
Sarah attended Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, but spent her summers in Florida visiting her father. By the age of 12, she had already made her professional debut in an off-Broadway play. Not long after finishing high school, Sarah landed a guest spot on the hit crime drama series Law & Order in 1994.
Sarah got her first recurring television role when when was cast as ghost Meryl Temple in the horror series American Gothic, from 1995 to 1996. She has also had a successful career in theater, and in 2005, starred as Laura Wingfield alongside Jessica Lange, Josh Lucas, and Christian Slater in a revival of Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie. She then had a minor role in the HBO series Deadwood, and was a character on an episode of the critically acclaimed FX series Nip/Tuck.
From 2006 to 2007, Sarah got her breakout role when she was cast to play Harriet Hayes on the comedy drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was for this role that she received her first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Series – Drama. However, her most memorable roles first began in 2011 with the popular anthology horror series American Horror Story, when she guest-starred in three episodes of the first season playing medium Billie Dean Howard.
As the series tackles a different story each season, Sarah played a different character in each of the five seasons. She was asked to return for season two, American Horror Story: Asylum as the new character Lana Winter — a writer who is committed to an asylum for being gay. In the third season, she appeared as Cordelia Foxx, a witch who runs an academy for other young witches. Then in the fourth season, she had two roles when she played conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot Tattler, and then she returned for the fifth season to portray the role of Hypodermic Sally.
Her performances in American Horror Story have garnered her recognition and have gotten her many awards. For the second season, she won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie, and then was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for the third season. She won another Critics' Choice Television Award for her role in the fourth season, and a nomination for the same award for the fifth season of the show.
While starring in American Horror Story, Sarah kept busy by taking on several other projects. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her work on the HBO miniseries Game Change in 2012, and appeared in the 2012 drama Mud with Matthew McConaughey. She also had a supporting role as racist Southern woman Mary Epps in the 2013 Oscar-winning historical biography 12 Years a Slave, a role for which she received critical acclaim.
Sarah also starred in the true crime anthology series American Crime Story, in which she portrayed prosecutor Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson. At the same time as playing the prosecuting attorney, she was also playing the wildly different role of the drug-addicted ghost Sally in American Horror Story: Hotel, the fifth season of the series. When she was to play on American Crime Story, makeup artists had to go through an intense process to get her ready, and remove the track marks, needle pricks, and bruises that Sarah had for playing Sally.
The actress has also supported a number of causes and charities, including Heifer International, Planned Parenthood, Unicef, Partners In Health, and bringing clean water to the Adi Kliew Community in Ethiopia. In June 2016, the Human Rights Campaign released a video in tribute to the 49 victims of the 2016 Orlando gay nightclub shooting, in which Sarah and other celebrities such as American Horror Story co-stars Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer, told the stories of the people who were killed there.
From 2004 to 2009, Sarah was in a relationship with actress Cherry Jones. Before her relationship with Cherry, Sarah had only dated men, and was engaged to actor and playwright, Tracy Letts. In 2015, Sarah began dating actress Holland Taylor, who is 32 years older than Sarah. They first met at a dinner party about a decade ago, while Sarah was still with Cherry, but she thought that Holland was “the most exquisitely beautiful woman” she’d ever seen. Sarah describes her sexuality as fluid, and does not like being labeled as a lesbian.
Besides having a talent for acting, Sarah discovered in high school that she has an odd talent for making dolphin noises. She pulls it out in the media as a trick every once in a while, and has done it on The Other Sister, on David Letterman's talk show, on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and on Anderson Cooper's talk show.
Most recently, Sarah was in the 2015 films Carol and The Runner, and will be in the upcoming 2016 romantic comedy Bluejay, as well as in Rebel in the Rye (2017). She also made her return to American Horror Story for its sixth season, which premiered on Sept. 14, 2016.