Sarah Catharine Paulson (born December 17, 1974) is an American actress, director, and producer. She has received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. In 2017, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.A native of Tampa, Florida, Paulson was raised there and later in New York City following her parents' divorce. She began her acting career after high school in New York stage productions before starring in the short-lived television series American Gothic (1995–1996) and Jack & Jill (1999–2001). She later appeared in comedy films such as What Women Want (2000) and Down with Love (2003), and drama films such as Path to War (2002) and The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). From 2006 to 2007, she starred as Harriet Hayes in the NBC comedy-drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, for which she received her first Golden Globe Award nomination. In 2008, Paulson starred as Ellen Dolan in the superhero noir film The Spirit.
Paulson has appeared on Broadway in the plays The Glass Menagerie in 2005 and Collected Stories in 2010. She also starred in a number of independent films, and had a leading role on the ABC comedy series Cupid in 2009. She later starred in the independent drama film Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), and received Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her portrayal of Nicolle Wallace in the HBO film Game Change (2012). She has featured as Mary Epps in the 2013 historical drama film 12 Years a Slave, as Abby Gerhard in the 2015 romantic drama film Carol, and as Toni Bradlee in the 2017 political drama film The Post. Paulson's other films include Serenity (2005), New Year's Eve (2011), Mud (2012), Blue Jay (2016), Ocean's 8 (2018), Bird Box (2018), and Glass (2019).
In 2011, Paulson began starring in the FX anthology series American Horror Story, playing different characters in each of the show's eight seasons. For her work, she has been nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards and won two Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries. In 2016, Paulson portrayed real life prosecutor Marcia Clark in the first season of the anthology series American Crime Story, subtitled The People v. O. J. Simpson, for which she earned critical praise and numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
She is also known as Sarah Catharine Paulson.