Sarah Catharine Paulson (born December 17, 1974) is an American actress. After beginning her acting career on stage, she starred in the 1990s television series American Gothic (1995–96) and Jack & Jill (1999–2001). Paulson later appeared in comedy films such as What Women Want (2000) and Down with Love (2003), and had dramatic roles in films such as Path to War (2002) and The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). From 2006 to 2007, Paulson played the role of 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, she starred as Ellen Dolan in the superhero noir film The Spirit.
Paulson has appeared on Broadway in the plays The Glass Menagerie (2005) and Collected Stories (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 Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), and received Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her performance as Nicolle Wallace in the HBO filmGame Change (2012). Paulson 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 multiple Academy Awards.
In 2011, Paulson began starring in the FX anthology series American Horror Story, playing different characters in each of the show's six seasons. For her work throughout the series, she has been nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards (2013–2016) and won two Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Miniseries (2013 and 2015). 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 her work in the series, she has been awarded the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.