Ella Beatty in Appropriate at the Belasco (Credit: Joan Marcus)

Thirty years ago, Sarah Paulson made her Broadway debut in Wendy Wasserstein‘s “The Sisters Rosenswig.” Now, after a slew of bold theater performances, including her role in “Killer Joe,” she has received her first Tony Award nomination. The actress’ mesmerizing performance in the Broadway powerhouse, “Appropriate,” is nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Play.

Paulson’s performance defies categorization. Throughout Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ two and a half-hour play, the actress embodies a wide range of emotions as Ella Beatty. Even while the character lurks in the shadows of the family home, when there are rare moments of quiet, Paulson continually communicates, even when her character listens to her siblings argue over their family’s past, present, and future.

In an interview with The New York Times, Paulson expressed her joy about a childhood dream coming to life:

I feel very moved and certainly overwhelmed to be in a category with such extraordinary women, some of whom are my friends. More than anything there’s that little girl in me who moved to New York at 5 years old and whose mother got a job as a waitress at this theater hangout, to wake up and have a Tony nomination for the first time in my life, at 49, feels just wildly moving to me and something that I have dreamed about since I was a girl.

I think a lot of times we spent a lot of energy pretending like these things don’t matter, because at the end of the day, they don’t — in the grand scheme of things the work is all that matters — but the little girl in me cannot be quieted this morning with a kind of explosive joy and excitement for a childhood dream being realized.

Recently, a friend described Paulson as the most “English” American actor in the states. It’s all about the craft, not trickery. Paulson is an actor’s actor. Watching her in “Appropriate” is an experience in presence, just a long list of creative, well-practiced choices that couldn’t feel more spontaneous in action.

Appropriate will continue its Broadway run until June 23rd.

Jack Giroux

In high school, Jack would skip classes to interview filmmakers. With 15 years in film journalism, he's contributed to outlets such as Thrillist, Music Connection Magazine, and High Times Magazine. He's witnessed explosions, attended satanic rituals, and scaled volcanoes in his career, but Jack's true passion is interviewing artists.