Paulson was a series regular on the cult television show American Gothic and the WB series Jack & Jill, playing the character Elisa Cronkite. In addition, she had a minor role in the HBO series Deadwood, and was a focal character in an episode of the critically acclaimed FX series Nip/Tuck.
In the 2006-2007 television season, Paulson co-starred in NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip playing Harriet Hayes, one of the stars of the show-within-a-show, earning her a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress in a TV series.
Starting in 2011 Sarah Paulson has starred in the critically acclaimed horror anthology American Horror Story created by Glee helmers Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy. The second season of the series garnered her an Emmy nomination for playing the emotionally/sexually abused lesbian journalist Lana Winters.
She began filming 12 Years a Slave in 2012 as the manipulative and icy Mistress Epps, beating out many notable A-list actresses for the juicy role. The film won Best Picture at the 2013 Academy Awards.
Paulson was universally praised for her portrayal of former Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Marcia Clark in the 2016 F/X series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.