Sarah Paulson Was Told She Needed ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Hair to Be a Successful Leading Lady

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·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
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  • Sarah Paulson
    Sarah Paulson
    Actress
  • Marcia Clark
    Marcia Clark
    American prosecutor, author, and television correspondent
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Sarah Paulson at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January. (Photo: Getty Images)

Whether she’s giving us the willies on American Horror Story or just slaying it as Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, it’s apparent to anyone with eyeballs that Sarah Paulson is among the best and brightest among her generation of Hollywood stars. However, her talent hasn’t always spared her from the sexist ways of show biz.

While taking part in the Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable, the 41-year-old Tampa, Fla., native said, “I’ve never been asked to play the [romantic] leading lady without having to be a blonde.”

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Well, this certainly looks like Housewives hair: Paulson on the red carpet in 2006. (Photo: Getty Images)

The natural brunette — who has starred on the big screen in such movies as 12 Years a Slave and Carol — continued, “I don’t mind it, I like the blond. But to be told that in order to be considered a romantic lady opposite some hunky guy, I need to have long blond hair that looked very L.A. Real Housewives? It does do something to your brain. You go, ‘Gosh, so the way I came into the world is not as appealing as it would be if I were altered in some way?’ That’s a funny message to extend to a person.”

All that said, “I did it,” Paulson, who has been acting professionally since she was 19, admitted. “I put the extensions in, I blonded it up.”

The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies, who also participated in the panel, quipped, “Well, you’ve got to pay your rent!”

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Paulson is a natural brunette. (Photo: Getty Images)

While The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story was airing, Paulson also talked about the scrutiny she encountered over her appearance, which helped her relate to Clark, who was famously a victim of sexism — and had her appearance deeply criticized throughout the Trial of the Century.

“I have naturally brown hair, and every time I’ve been asked to be a leading lady on television or in a movie, I have often been asked to make my hair blond,” she said on NPR’s Fresh Air in March. “And that is a sort of a weird slippery slope where you start to go, ‘Gosh … if my job on this particular program is supposed to be alluring or charming, thought of as a sexual creature, I have to have blond hair? What does it mean that I don’t actually have blond hair? Does it mean that I am not any of those things without it?’”

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Paulson wore a wig — actually four different ones — to play Marcia Clark, who knew a little something about sexism. (Photo: FX)

In that same interview, Paulson noted that the sexism she endured was nothing compared to what Clark went through.

“That’s sometimes some of what comes with my job. I don’t like that part of it, but when I signed up for it, I sort of knew it,” she said. “Marcia was a private citizen, a civil servant and, unlike the defense team, was not very well versed in the language of intense media scrutiny and pressure.”

It doesn’t really seem fair in either case though, does it?