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How Sarah Paulson Achieved a Net Worth of $12 Million

Sarah Paulson

“American Horror Story” was Ryan Murphy’s way of saying that he was tired of the teenage romance he had created for “Glee,” and wanted to send chills down the spines of his audience. The series has become a favorite for horror fans since its release in 2011, and one of the faces you will recognize is that of Sarah Paulson. The actress knew she wanted to be in Hollywood and worked hard to make her dream come true. The efforts have been worth it because Sarah Paulson’s net worth is $12 million and might potentially grow before she retires. Here’s how she attained the millions.

Started with Idolizing Julia Roberts

Paulson was born in 1974 to Catharine and Douglas, who raised the actress in Tampa. Paulson told Town and Country Magazine that she knew even when in the womb that she wanted to be an actress and began seeking the spotlight as soon as she was born. When she was five, her parents divorced; thus, Catharine moved to pursue a career as a writer while waiting tables at Sardi’s. Paulson’s love for acting resulted in hanging posters of Julia Roberts, whom she idolized. The actress confessed to chasing perfection in everything she did and tried manifesting whatever she wanted. Still, the idea of being an actress seemed like a farfetched dream though she had already made her acting debut through an off-Broadway show at 12 years old. Luckily, destiny led her to attend Berkeley Carroll School, a private school in Brooklyn. While there, she met Robert Stallworth, an acting teacher who believed that Paulson would make a great actress. As a result, Stallworth approached Paulson one day in gym class and told her about a high school she could join and focus on becoming an actress. The school Stallworth referred to was Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, which Paulson joined and graduated in 1993. Of course, the perfectionist wanted to be the best actress, so she joined the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to perfect her acting skills.

Earning a Living as an Actress

As soon as she graduated from high school, Paulson worked as an understudy for Amy Ryan on Broadway. The actress landed her first professional on-screen role at 20 when Paulson booked the role of Maggie Conner in the fifth season of “Law & Order.” Her skills were still wanting, because as she told Harper’s Bazaar, Paulson did not know that she could move her head around while on camera. Fortunately, she learned on the job and continued scoring several roles in films and television shows. Some of the shows Paulson was cast in are “American Gothic,” “The D.A.,” “Leap of Faith,” “Cupid,” “Cracker” and many more. When Steve McQueen’s daughter watched Paulson's audition tape for “12 Years a Slave,” she told her dad that Paulson was the scariest person she had ever seen; hence, the actress should be in the movie. However, Paulson was still convinced there had to be more out there. Paulson felt she was not living up to her potential despite booking all these roles. By 2013, the actress was disappointed and felt like a benched player who deserved a shot. Thankfully, Ryan Murphy was a fan of her work, and he gave Paulson the opportunity that she had been seeking.

Ryan Murphy Throws a Giant Life Raft Her Way

According to The New York Times, Murphy had met Paulson on the set of “Nip/Tuck” and was impressed by how well she impersonated Kathleen Turner and Holly Hunter. So he called her and asked if she would be interested in being on “American Horror Story.” For a moment, Paulson wondered if she wanted to be playing the same character for so long since Netflix had already commissioned two series. Eventually, she agreed. The two have worked together since then. For this reason, Paulson referred to the relationship as a “creative marriage” because Murphy runs his ideas by her. At some point, Murphy referred to the actress as his muse, and Paulson appreciates that despite many women hoping to be chosen for the Marcia Clark part, Murphy wanted Paulson though she did not understand why. In the end, Paulson became the main cast of “American Horror story,” and an executive producer. Murphy’s love for Paulson’s acting prowess has also led to her being the lead actress in “Ratched,” where she also is an executive producer.

Destined for More

Although there are no conclusive reports about how much Paulson makes per episode of “American Horror Story,” we can assume that she is probably being paid like Lea Michele in “Glee” – an $80,000 paycheck for each episode. If that’s the case, Paulson has raked in a fortune since she has been cast in nine seasons. Besides, she has to earn more considering that she also is an executive producer for Murphy’s shows. Murphy’s contract with Netflix is reportedly worth $300 million and with Paulson helping him as an executive producer, she is probably pocketing millions in that role. Murphy has to fulfill his end of the deal by producing more films and television shows for Netflix. Consequently, the showrunner most likely will rely on his muse for ideas and cast her, thereby continuing to line Paulson's pockets with more money. That is not to say that Paulson only keeps her calendar open for Murphy. When Steven Spielberg was filming “The Post,” he had to negotiate with Murphy so that Paulson would be available to play Antoinette. “American Horror Story” and “The Post” were being filmed at the same time, and Paulson had become a beloved cast member. Amy Pascal even fondly referred to her as the guiding light. That said, Paulson is an endearing actress whose acting skills continue to market her in the showbiz industry.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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