There are a lot of things you can do in five years. Add five more candles to your birthday cake. Raise a child to the age of four years and three months. Hell, you can even serve as the President of the United States and then swan off for a long vacay! But for Sarah Paulson, the last five years have been all about one thing — waiting for that Emmys glory.
It's been 208 weeks, 1460 days and god knows how many seconds since Paulson was first nominated for her role in 2012's Game Change. The American Horror Story actress was nominated (and lost) every year since 2012, missing out on five Emmys in total. That's the real horror story here, folks.
This year though, the acclaimed actress has finally done it, nabbing the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Made for TV Movie. For her role as real-life lawyer Marcia Clark on The People v. O.J. Simpson, Paulson blew away critics and audiences alike with a stunning portrayal that found the humanity behind Clark, who had been previously reduced to a mere caricature written off in late-night comedy sketches.
In her moving acceptance speech, Paulson admitted that she too had misjudged Clark, the lawyer who famously lost the seemingly open and shut case against OJ Simpson back in 1995;
"The responsibility of playing a real person is an enormous one. You want to get it right not for you but for them. I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial in my judgment, and I'm glad that I'm able to stand here in front of everyone today and say, I'm sorry."
That's not all though. As Paulson headed to the winners' circle, she graciously asked Marcia Clark to join her and together, the two watched as both of their names were engraved onto the Emmy trophy.
After the ceremony, Paulson explained to reporters exactly why she felt that the public apology was necessary;
“It was a roll [of] the dice when I asked her to come with me because I thought they could very easily not call my name and then she’d be there... But it turned out this way and I was able to stand up in front of everyone and say something that I think the world should say to her. Because I do think there was a collective failing by women for Marcia during the time of the trial. Given what I know now and what we all know now, I think an apology was in order. . . I do feel like there was a collective failing of women during the trial.”
As if her talent wasn't impressive enough, Paulson's humility and willingness to admit her own mistakes has undoubtedly won the actress even more fans this week —alongside her latest performance in Season 6 of American Horror Story, of course.
Why Did Sarah Paulson Deserve To Win The Emmy?
There's no doubt that the competition for Paulson's Emmy was fierce this year. Yet the way that Sarah negotiated Clark's awful treatment by the media not only anchored the show, but led to some of the most heartbreaking TV moments of this year.
Here are the other nominees for 'Outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie:
- Kirsten Dunst - Fargo
- Felicity Huffman - American Crime
- Audra McDonald - Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
- Lili Taylor - American Crime
- Kerry Washington - Confirmation
Each of these actresses are hugely talented in their own right, but Paulson was long overdue recognition from the esteemed award body. She missed out on wins the previous four years for her performances on Game Change and American Horror Story, each of which deserved to win in their own right. Here's a brief history of Sarah Paulson's Emmy near-misses.
2012: 'Game Change' — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
In the same year that Paulson impressed as a psychic in American Horror Story's first season, the actress also left a lasting impression on viewers of Game Change. She played a chief aide during the 2008 US Presidential election, alongside Julianne Moore, who won an Emmy for her part as Sarah Palin.
2013: 'American Horror Story: Asylum' — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Paulson moved to the forefront of the American Horror Story cast with her role as Lana Winters in the second season. Winters was an investigative journalist who was unfairly committed to the asylum and endured unspeakable horrors. Knowing that Paulson herself is LGBT makes the scenes where her character is forced to undergo a barbaric form of 'aversion therapy' makes it even more brutal.
Check out Paulson in action as Lana below:
2014: 'American Horror Story: Coven' — Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
For her third nomination, Paulson underwent a remarkable transformation as Cordelia Foxx, a witch who initially lives in her mother's shadow before finally coming into her own as the new Supreme. Jessica Lange rightfully won for her now-iconic performance as Fiona Goode, but it's still a shame that Paulson missed out.
2015: 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
In arguably her most challenging role yet, Paulson played two Siamese twins called Bette and Dot Tattler, whose bodies were joined at the torso. With the help of CGI, Paulson was able to give each twin an entirely unique personality. Paulson imbued each sister with their own unique physicality, despite sharing everything but their minds.
2016: 'American Horror Story: Hotel' — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
For her fifth Emmy nomination, Paulson became unrecognizable as a brand new character in the American Horror Story anthology. This time, she played the ghost of a drug addict known as Hypodermic Sally. While she should have won just for that wig alone, Paulson impressed once again by somehow making her character likeable, despite some of the unspeakable acts that she commited as the series progressed.
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Whether the Emmys didn't deem American Horror Story worthy of many acting awards, or whether Paulson was simply overlooked in the face of her competitors, it's about time that Sarah finally had her time in the spotlight. We highly doubt this will be her last nomination — or her last win.
As well as her role in the latest season of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare, Paulson is also set to appear in a new Ryan Murphy show called Feud, which will undoubtedly attract more awards as Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon fight it out in the parts of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
Let's just hope Paulson doesn't have to wait five more years before her next win!
What's your favorite Sarah Paulson performance? Let us know in the comments!