Sarah Paulson (born December 17, 1974) is an American actress who has so far appeared in all seasons of American Horror Story. In the first season, she portrayed Billie Dean Howard, a psychic that visited the Murder House. In Asylum, she portrayed Lana Winters, a journalist. In Coven she portrayed Cordelia Foxx, a witch and in Freak Show she plays Bette and Dot Tattler, conjoined twins. She also played Sally McKenna in the fifth season, Hotel, and reprised her role as Billie Dean Howard. She plays the "real" victim of Shelby Miller in Roanoke.
Paulson was born in Tampa, Florida, the daughter of Catharine Gordon (née Dolcater) and Douglas Lyle Paulson II. She lived in South Tampa until she was 5, when her parents divorced. She spent time in Maine before moving to New York City at the age of five with her mother. She lived in Queens and Gramercy Park, before settling in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She spent her summers in Florida to visit her father. Paulson attended Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
She dated actress Cherry Jones, the couple declaring their love for each other in 2007, during an interview with Velvetpark at Women's Event 10 for the LGBT Center of NYC. They broke up in 2009. In an interview with Broadway.com in 2013 during the revival of Talley's Folly, Paulson stated that she only dated men before her relationship with Jones, and that she has not been in a relationship since her breakup with Jones, but that she is open to relationships with women and men going forward.
Sarah's first recurring television role was on the creepy 90s series American Gothic as Merlyn Temple, a ghost who served as a guide to her little brother Caleb. She would later co-star as Elisa Cronkite in the short lived romantic comedy series Jack & Jill. In 2002 she played the titular character in Leap of Faith. She played the Pinkerton agent posing as a tutor on the original HBO series Deadwood and Harriet Hayes in the Aaron Sorkin comedy series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. She also starred in the 2009 reboot of the 1998 Jeremy Piven series Cupid opposite Bobby Cannavale. She worked with Ryan Murphy twice before American Horror Story, in Nip/Tuck and Pretty/Handsome, and she will later star in the sister series American Crime Story.
- None of Paulson's characters from the first four seasons (Billie Dean Howard/Lana Winters/Cordelia Foxx/Bette and Dot Tattler) were killed off, giving her the unique honor of surviving every season. In a bit of subversion, her season 5 character, Sally, was killed in the first episode, but she continues to "survive" as a ghost.
- Sarah has a lisp.
- Sarah starred in the TV series Leap of Faith with Lily Rabe's mother, Jill Clayburgh.
- Sarah is currently one of three actors (along with Evan Peters and Lily Rabe) to appear in all five seasons or horror stories.
- Sarah briefly reprised her role as Billie Dean Howard towards the end of the fifth season, when Iris hires her to help Liz Taylor contact her recently deceased lover, Tristan.