Ryan Murphy (writer)

Ryan Patrick Murphy (born November 9, 1965) is an American screenwriter, director, and producer. He is best known for creating and producing a number of television series, such as Nip/Tuck (2003–2010), Glee (2009–2015), American Horror Story (2011–present), Scream Queens (2015–2016), Pose (2018–present), 9-1-1 (2018–present), The Politician (2019–present), 9-1-1: Lone Star (2020–present), and Hollywood (2020).

Ryan Murphy
Murphy at PaleyFest 2013
Murphy at PaleyFest 2013
BornRyan Patrick Murphy
(1965-11-09) November 9, 1965 (age 54)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
  • Screenwriter
  • director
  • producer
Alma materIndiana University Bloomington
Notable worksNip/Tuck
American Horror Story
David Miller
m. 2012)

Murphy also directed the 2006 film adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' memoir Running with Scissors, the 2010 film adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, and the 2014 film adaptation of Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart.

Murphy has received six Primetime Emmy Awards from 28 nominations, a Tony Award from two nominations, and three Grammy Award nominations. He has often been cited as "the most powerful man" in modern television, including having signed the largest development deal in television history with Netflix.[1][2] Murphy is noted for having created a shift in inclusive storytelling that "brought marginalised characters to the masses".[3]

Early lifeEdit

Murphy was born on November 9, 1965, in Indianapolis, Indiana,[4] where he was raised in an Irish Catholic family.[5][6] He attended Catholic school from first through eighth grade,[5] and graduated from Warren Central High School in Indianapolis. He has described his mother J. Andy Murphy as a "beauty queen who left it all to stay at home and take care of her two sons". She wrote five books and worked in communications for over 20 years before retiring. His father worked in the newspaper industry as a circulation director before he retired after 30 years.[7]

After coming out as gay, Murphy saw his first therapist, who found nothing wrong with him other than being "too precocious for his own good".[5][7] During a 2012 interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Murphy claimed that he secretly dated "a lot of football players" in high school.[8] He performed with a choir as a child, which would later inform his work on Glee.[5]

Murphy attended Indiana University Bloomington, where he majored in journalism.[4] He interned at The Washington Post in 1986 alongside reporter Kara Swisher. He was placed in the style section.[9]


1990–2008: Beginnings, Popular and Nip/TuckEdit

Murphy started as a journalist working for The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Knoxville News Sentinel and Entertainment Weekly. He began scriptwriting in the late 1990s, when Steven Spielberg purchased his script Why Can't I Be Audrey Hepburn?.[7]

Murphy started his career in television with the teen comedy series Popular, which he co-created with Gina Matthews. The series premiered on The WB on September 29, 1999[10] and ran for two seasons, ending in 2001. He then created the FX drama series Nip/Tuck, which premiered on July 18, 2003. In 2004, Murphy earned his first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.[7] Murphy took the show's signature line, "Tell me what you don't like about yourself," from a plastic surgeon he met when he was a journalist researching an undercover story on plastic surgery in Beverly Hills. The series ended after six seasons in 2010.

In 2006, Murphy wrote the screenplay for and directed the feature film Running with Scissors. Based on the memoir by Augusten Burroughs, the movie version starred Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin and Brian Cox and, as the young Burroughs, Joseph Cross.

2009–2017: Mainstream success with Glee and American Horror StoryEdit

On May 19, 2009, Murphy's musical comedy-drama series, Glee, premiered on Fox. He co-created the series with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. In its early seasons, the show was critically lauded.[11] Murphy won his first Primetime Emmy Award for directing the pilot episode.[12] The series concluded in 2015 following its sixth season.[13] Murphy was one of four executive producers on the reality television series The Glee Project, which premiered on Oxygen on June 12, 2011.[14] The show featured a group of contestants vying for the prize of a seven-episode arc on Glee, with someone being eliminated each week, until the winner is chosen in the final episode. The show was renewed for a second season, which ended up being its last.[15]

In 2010, Murphy directed Julia Roberts in an adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat, Pray, Love. The film was a box office success but a critical failure, receiving harsh reviews criticizing its pacing and lack of credibility. To date, the film has grossed $204,482,125 worldwide.[16]

Murphy and Falchuk created the anthology series American Horror Story, which premiered on FX on October 5, 2011. Most of the same cast have played different characters in different settings each subsequent season.[17][18]

Murphy and Glee co-executive producer Ali Adler created the half-hour comedy The New Normal, which premiered on NBC on September 10, 2012. The series was based on Murphy's own experiences of having a child via surrogate, with the main characters, Bryan and David, named for Ryan and his husband.[19] The series was ultimately cancelled after one season.[20]

Murphy next directed the 2014 television film adaptation of Larry Kramer's Broadway play The Normal Heart, starring Mark Ruffalo, Roberts, Baldwin, Jonathan Groff, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons.[21] Murphy then collaborated with The Normal Heart executive producer Jason Blum to produce a metasequel to the cult-classic horror film The Town That Dreaded Sundown.[22] The film was the directorial debut of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and was also released in 2014. In October 2014, FX greenlit a companion anthology series, American Crime Story, which Murphy and Falchuk executive produce. The series premiered on February 2, 2016.[23]

Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan next co-created the comedy-horror series Scream Queens, which premiered on Fox on September 22, 2015.[24] The series was cancelled after two seasons.[25][26]

Murphy's next project, the drama anthology series Feud, premiered on FX in 2017. The first season focused on the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.[27]

2018–present: Further acclaim with Pose and move to NetflixEdit

In 2018, Murphy co-created the police procedural drama series 9-1-1. He also served as director, writer and executive producer on the series.

With newcomer Steven Canals, a research assistant for Dustin Lance Black before his Master of Fine Arts at UCLA,[citation needed] Murphy and Falchuk launched a new series, Pose, set in the Ball community in mid-1980s New York City. Murphy had wanted to adapt Paris is Burning as a series[28] and Canals had been writing a script while at graduate school centered on a young African American teen made homeless for being gay, who moved to New York with dreams of going to dance school and who became adopted by a House mother.[29] Joining Canals, Murphy and Falchuk in the writing room were Our Lady J and Janet Mock, who Murphy also encouraged to direct an episode,[28] making her the first trans woman of colour to do so, as well as the first trans woman of colour in a TV series writing room.[28]

The series premiered on FX on June 3, 2018, attracting critical acclaim.[30][31] The first season boasted the largest cast of transgender actors ever for a scripted network series with over 50 transgender characters, all played by trans actors.[32][33] On July 12, 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season, which is set to premiere sometime in 2019.[34]

In May 2018, ahead of the premiere, Murphy announced that he would be donating all his profits from Pose to charitable organizations working with LGBTQ+ people, tweeting a different non-profit including Sylvia Rivera Law Project,[35] Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund,[36] and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center[37] telling Variety that: “The thing that struck me in talking to so many of them, was how much they've struggled, how under attack they feel, how many of them find it difficult getting healthcare, and finding jobs. I just decided I need to do more than just making a show for this community. I want to reach out and help this community.”[38]

In 2018, Netflix signed Murphy for a development deal with a compensation of $300 million over a period of five years.[39][40]

In September 2019, The Politician was released on Netflix to generally positive reviews. The series was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and renewed for a second season due to be released in late 2020. Murphy then co-created the 9-1-1 spin-off series 9-1-1: Lone Star, which premiered on Fox in January 2020.

In May 2020, the period miniseries Hollywood was released to mixed reviews. Murphy served as co-creator, writer and director for the series. In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named him among the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people”.[41][42]

In the mediaEdit

(l-r) Governor appointee Don Norte, Murphy, and Norte's husband, gay activist Kevin Norte, at Spring Time GLAAD 2010's charitable event in Century City, Los Angeles, California.

In October 2015, Murphy received the Award of Inspiration from amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research for his contributions to TV and film as well as his work in the fight against AIDS.[43]

In 2017, Murphy launched the Half Initiative, which aims to make Hollywood more inclusive by creating equal opportunities for women and minorities behind the camera. Less than one year after launching Half, Ryan Murphy Television's director slate hired 60% women directors and 90% met its women & minority requirement. In conjunction with the hiring goals, the Initiative launched the Half-Director Mentorship Program in which every director on every Ryan Murphy Television production mentors emerging women and minority directors through pre-production and post-production along with offering a significant stipend for their commitment. Filmmaker Kristin Fairweather, the first recipient of a HALF award, described her experience in an interview with Screen Comment's Rudy Cecera.[44]

Unproduced projectsEdit

Murphy has also created and produced various unsuccessful television pilots. The WB sitcom pilot St. Sass, starring Delta Burke and Heather Matarazzo, was not picked up. In 2008, Murphy wrote and directed the FX pilot Pretty/Handsome, which also was not picked up.[45] By April 2013, HBO had given a pilot order for Murphy's sexuality drama Open, which began filming in late 2013.[46] By September 2014, HBO had opted not to proceed to series.[47]

Murphy also had several films in development: Dirty Tricks, a political comedy, One Hit Wonders, a musical comedy, and a sequel to The Normal Heart. In 2014, Murphy was developing a feature film of the life of reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, based on the best-selling book Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. There has been no development on these films since their announcement.

Personal lifeEdit

Murphy grew up in a Catholic household, but "is done with the Church", having left it; however he still occasionally goes to church, nonetheless.[5][48] He serves on the National Advisory Board of Young Storytellers. He once owned a house designed by renowned mid-century modern architect Carl Maston.[49]

In an interview about his show Pose, which is set in 1987, during the height of the initial AIDS crisis, Murphy described his concern about contracting HIV while at college, getting tested frequently even when celibate.[50]

Murphy has been married to photographer David Miller since July 2012.[51] On December 24, 2012, Murphy and Miller welcomed their first child, a son named Logan Phineas, via a surrogate. On October 6, 2014, they welcomed their second son, Ford.[52]



Title Year Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
The Furies 1999 No Yes No Short film
Running with Scissors 2006 Yes Yes Yes
Eat Pray Love 2010 Yes Yes No
Glee: The 3D Concert Movie 2011 No No Yes Documentary concert film
The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014 No No Yes
Circus of Books 2019 No No Yes Documentary film
A Secret Love 2020 No No Yes Documentary film
The Boys in the Band 2020 No No Yes
The Prom 2020 Yes No Yes


The numbers in directing and writing credits refer to the number of episodes.

Title Year Credited as Network Notes
Creator Director Writer Executive
Popular 1999–2001 Yes Yes (2) Yes (17) Yes The WB
Nip/Tuck 2003–2010 Yes Yes (8) Yes (24) Yes FX
Glee 2009–2015 Yes Yes (8) Yes (31) Yes Fox
American Horror Story 2011–present Yes Yes (3) Yes (19) Yes FX Anthology
The New Normal 2012–2013 Yes Yes (4) Yes (5) Yes NBC
The Normal Heart 2014 Yes Yes No Yes HBO Television film
Scream Queens 2015–2016 Yes Yes (1) Yes (8) Yes Fox
American Crime Story 2016–present No Yes (5) No Yes FX Anthology
Feud 2017 Yes Yes (3) Yes (2) Yes FX Anthology
9-1-1 2018–present Yes No Yes (3) Yes Fox
Pose 2018–present Yes Yes (3) Yes (7) Yes FX
The Politician 2019–present Yes Yes (1) Yes (7) Yes Netflix
9-1-1: Lone Star 2020–present Yes No Yes (1) Yes Fox
Hollywood 2020 Yes Yes (1) Yes (6) Yes Netflix Miniseries
Ratched 2020 No TBA TBA Yes Netflix
Halston 2021 TBA TBA TBA Yes Netflix Miniseries
A Chorus Line TBA TBA TBA Yes Yes Netflix Miniseries
American Horror Stories TBA Yes TBA Yes Yes FX on Hulu Anthology

Unsold television pilotsEdit

Title Year Credited as
Director Writer Executive
St. Sass 2002 Yes No Yes
Pretty/Handsome 2008 Yes Yes Yes
Open 2014 Yes Yes Yes

Non-fiction television seriesEdit

Title Year Credited as Notes
Director Producer Executive
The Glee Project 2011–2012 No No Yes Reality series
American Horror Story Freak Show: Extra-Ordinary-Artists 2014 Yes No No
Inside Look: The People v. O.J. Simpson – American Crime Story 2016 No Yes No
Inside Look: Feud – Bette and Joan 2017 No No Yes
Inside Look: The Assassination of Gianni Versace – American Crime Story 2017–2018 No No Yes

Frequent castingEdit

Actor Popular
American Horror Story
The New Normal
Scream Queens
American Crime Story
The Politician
9-1-1: Lone Star
Total roles
Max Adler   Dave Karofsky   Sam   2
Laura Allen   Rosie (Cult)   Marcy Nash   2
Jacob Artist   Jake Puckerman Todd Connors (Roanoke)   2
Jennifer Aspen   Kendra Giardi   Mandy Greenwell   Lorraine/Potch Pirate   3
Angela Bassett     Athena Grant   2
Billy Eichner     Matt Drudge (Impeachment)   2
Kathy Bates     Joan Blondell   2
Willam Belli   Cherry Peck Party guest   Nana Drag Queen   3
Sandra Bernhard   Hannah (Apocalypse)   Nurse Judy   2
Leslie Bibb Brooke McQueen Naomi Gaines   2
Matt Bomer   Cooper Anderson Monty   Director   4
Jon Jon Briones   Ariel Augustus (Apocalypse)   Modesto Cunanan (Versace)   Dr. Richard Hanover 3
Connie Britton   Vivien Harmon (Murder House, Apocalypse)   Faye Resnick (O.J.Simpson)   Abby Clark   3
Cocoa Brown   Jeanette "Queen B" Harris (O.J.Simpson)   Carla Price   2
Kenneth Choi   Dr. Wu   Lance Ito (O.J.Simpson)   Howie Han   3
Frances Conroy   Jane Fields     2
David Corenswet   River Barkley   Jack Costello   2
Darren Criss   Blaine Anderson Justin (Hotel)   Andrew Cunanan (Versace)   Raymond Ainsley   4
Earlene Davis   Andrea Carmichael   Agnes Moorehead Entitled Woman   3
Judy Davis   Hedda Hopper   TBA 2
Laura Dreyfuss   Maddison McCarthy   McAfee Westbrook   2
James Earl   Azimio Adams   Chamberlain Jackson   2
Christine Ebersole   Anna Leigh Leighton (Coven)   Bobbi   2
Christine Estabrook   Sheila Carlton   Marcy (Murder House), (Hotel)   Gloria   3
Cody Fern     David Madson (Versace)   2
Jessalyn Gilsig   Gina Russo Terri Schuester   2
Cuba Gooding Jr.   Dominic Banks (Roanoke)   O. J. Simpson (O.J.Simpson)   2
Max Greenfield   Gabriel (Hotel)   Ronnie Holston (Versace)   2
Leslie Grossman Mary Cherry Bliss Berger   Melissa   4
Harriet Harris   Madelyn (Apocalypse)   Eleanor Roosevelt TBA 3
Neil Patrick Harris   Bryan Ryan Chester Creb (Freak Show)   2
Colton Haynes   Detective Jack Samuels (Cult)   Tyler   2
Jan Hoag   Margot Roberta   Ms. Bean   3
Jackie Hoffman   Frances   Mamacita   Sherry Dougal   3
Cheyenne Jackson   Dustin Goolsby   2
Bryce Johnson Josh Ford Corporal Oliver Brandt Cody Tolentino   3
Michelle Krusiec Exquisite Woo   Anna May Wong   2
Dot-Marie Jones   Tess Shannon/Sheldon Beiste Butchy May (Cult)   3
Jessica Lange     Joan Crawford   Dusty Jackson   3
NeNe Leakes   Roz Washington   Rocky Rhoades   2
Judith Light   Marilyn Miglin (Versace)   Dede Standish   2
Billie Lourd     Sadie Swenson/Chanel #3   2
Patti LuPone   Herself Joan Ramsey (Coven)   Frederica Norman   Avis Amberg   4
Jane Lynch Suzi Klein   Sue Sylvester   2
Kate Mara   Vanessa Bartholomew   Hayden McClaine (Murder House)   Patty Bowes   3
Ricky Martin   David Martinez   Antonio D'Amico (Versace)   2
Dylan McDermott     Theo Klein   Ernie   3
James Morosini     Bart   2
Lea Michele   Rachel Berry   Hester Ulrich   2
Gwyneth Paltrow   Holly Holliday   Abby   Georgina Hobart   3
Sarah Paulson   Agatha Ripp     Marcia Clark (O.J.Simpson) Geraldine Page   Nurse Ratched 5
Evan Peters     Stan Bowes   2
Jeremy Pope   TBA   Archie Coleman   2
Adina Porter   History teacher   2
Billy Porter   Behold Chablis (Apocalypse)   Pray Tell   2
Lily Rabe   Lanie Ainge     2
Andrew Rannells   Himself   Bryan Collins   2
Emma Roberts     Chanel Oberlin   2
Romy Rosemont   Libby Zucker Carole Hudson-Hummel   Jill Shively (O.J.Simpson)   Lola   4
Angelica Ross   Rita (1984)   Candy Ferocity   2
Skyler Samuels   Bonnie Lipton (Freakshow)   Grace Gardner   2
Riley Schmidt   Rubber Man (Murder House)   Red Devil, Zak, Green Meanie   2
Teddy Sears   Patrick (Murder House)   William   2
Brooke Shields   Faith Wolper   Dr. Scarlett Lovin   Dr. Kara Sanford   3
John Stamos   Carl Howell   Brice Brock Holt   3
Matthew Morrison   Will Schuester Trevor Kirchner (1984)   2
Dijon Talton   Matt Rutherford   Police Officer (O.J.Simpson)   2
Finn Wittrock     Jeffery Trail (Versace)   TBA 3
Alison Wright   Pauline Jameson   Ms. Roswell   2

Awards and nominationsEdit

Emmy AwardsEdit

Murphy has won 6 Primetime Emmy Awards out of 28 nominations[53] as a producer, writer and director.

Year Category Nominated work Result
2004 Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
2010 Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Won
2011 Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
2012 Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story
Outstanding Main Title Design Nominated
2013 Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story: Asylum
Outstanding Main Title Design Nominated
2014 Outstanding Television Movie
The Normal Heart
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Nominated
Outstanding Limited Series
American Horror Story: Coven
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Nominated
2015 Outstanding Limited Series
American Horror Story: Freak Show
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Nominated
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series
American Horror Story: Extra-Ordinary Artists
2016 Outstanding Limited Series
The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Nominated
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series
Inside Look: The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story
2017 Outstanding Limited Series
Feud: Bette and Joan
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Nominated
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series
Feud: Bette and Joan: Inside Look
2018 Outstanding Limited Series
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Won
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: America's Obsessions
2019 Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series
Pose: Identity, Family, Community (Inside Look)

Grammy AwardsEdit

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Murphy has been nominated for three awards as a producer.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 "Don't Stop Believin' (Regionals Version)" Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
Glee: The Music, Volume 1 Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Nominated
2012 Glee: The Music, Volume 4 Nominated

Tony AwardsEdit

Murphy has won one Tony award out of two nominations as a producer.

Year Category Nominated work Result
2016 Best Revival of a Play Long Day's Journey Into Night Nominated
2019 The Boys in the Band Won


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External linksEdit