Sarah Catharine Paulson was born December 17, 1974 and is an American actress. 

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). 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  (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. 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.

She is the daughter of Catharine Gordon (née Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She spent her early life living in South Tampa until her parents’ divorce when she was five years old. After her parents’ separation, Paulson relocated with her mother and sister to Maine, then to New York City. Her mother worked as a waitress, and Paulson lived in Queens and Gramercy Park, before settling in Park Slope, Brooklyn. 

Throughout her childhood, Paulson spent her summers in Florida staying with her father, who was an executive at a Tampa door manufacturing company. She attended P.S. 29 in Brooklyn before attending 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 was diagnosed with melanoma on her back when she was 25. The growth was later removed before the cancer could spread. She also was in a relationship with actress Cherry Jones from 2004 to 2009. Addressing her sexuality in a 2013 interview with Broadway.com, Paulson said that the situation is fluid for her. Before her relationship with Jones, she had only dated men, including then-fiancé playwright Tracy Letts. 

Since early 2015, Paulson has been in a relationship with actress Holland Taylor. Paulson lives in Los Angeles.