"I got a text message from our costume designer with a bunch of emojis and sparkly things and exclamations points," Paulson said. "I didn't even know what it meant at first. Did she mean the show? Did she mean me specifically? Then all of a sudden my phone blew up.
"It was very early all of a sudden it was [an emoji for] a birthday package, then a trumpet and flags and hearts. And I was just like ... I don't know what that is. And I wrote back: 'Did I?' And she wrote, 'Well, duh?' I didn't know that all those different emojis meant that you had been nominated for an Emmy."
Paulson, who moved from the supporting actress to lead actress in a mini-series or movie category this year for her run as the witch Cordelia Foxx, received the digital icon explosion while she was in New Orleans, where she'll begin filming the carnival-themed fourth season of "American Horror Story," dubbed "Freak Show," in a few days.
Despite her morning translation session, the actress said it was the kind of wake-up call that she liked and that she felt "honored."
"I was shocked just because I'd moved from supporting to leading actress this year and I just thought with all the incredible women that I knew were contenders, I just didn't have that feeling that this was going to happen," she said. "I was always one of those kids who wanted to be an actress for as long as I can remember. I've watched the Emmy awards since I can remember. This has been a dream of mind so to be recognized for the third year in a row for three roles, three different parts where I've been recognized by the television academy and I just feel like it's incredibly humbling.
"There have been a lot of like hits and misses. It just feels like in the last few years. It feels very, very special. I also know how rare it is."
Paulson said the most glaring omission in the day's nomination was her good friend Pedro Pascal, who played the heroic Prince Oberyn Martell in HBO's "Game of Thrones," and she "fully expected him to be nominated this morning."
"I didn't think that I would be [nominated] and I fully expected him to be. You just never know. I thought his work was so extraordinary on the show and I thought there was no way he wouldn't be nominated. So I know how rare it is to be honored in this way so I don't take it for granted, you know.
"But I have a very personal connection and investment in wanting that to sort of happen for him. He's an extraordinary actor and I think his performance was extraordinary. Nobody really knew who Pedro Pascal was before 'Game of Thrones' even though he was a working actor and I think sometimes it's hard to get in that way when you have bigger names. [His demise] was also so memorable and I think he did such an extraordinary job with that character. He certainly got an enormous amount out of it by being on a show that's so critically lauded and the most nominated show on television. So to be a part of that, so many people have seen his work and that's an extraordinary thing. I'm sure he'll be nominated some day."
Another show she sang the praises of? Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," which scored a comedy nomination as well as nods for actresses Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Natasha Lyonne and Laverne Cox.
"I think it was a big day for them and I'm very glad," she said. "I watched that show in one day. I didn't leave my bed. I watched the first season when it first came out, then I watched the second season like four days after it came online and I just didn't move for like 24 hours and I just watched the whole thing."
Paulson also said that she'd love to appear on the Netflix original series.
"I don't care if I play the glass of water on that show. I really would like to play like just somebody the polar opposite things I've done. But the truth of the matter is, the things I get to do on 'American Horror Story' -- like I'm literally playing a person with two heads I really don't know what more I could ask for. There's no other show where I could be that. I think it's ['Orange'] incredibly inventive and I just love all the different characters on there and that would be it.
Speaking of two heads, Paulson stayed mum on any upcoming spoilers from "AHS" since she previously revealed that she'll be playing two-headed conjoined twins Bette and Dot in the upcoming installation.
"I think fans of the show, as much as they want to know, I think everybody loves being surprised," she said. "I already dropped quite a few bombs that I have two heads and my character's name. I think for right now that's all Ryan Murphy is willing to tell and I think that's enough. You're just going to have to wait like everything else. You just have to be patient. I'm so excited about this season that I want to tell you everything but I think that part of the fun of it is that everybody's finding out at the same time."
The actress believes that the peculiar series resonates with audiences because it changes its format and characters every season.
"Every year we get a different kind of audience. Some of our core audience is always there and then every year you get a new set of eyeballs on the show," she said. "I think last year the witches theme really spoke to a broad audience probably because everyone thinks they've got a little witch in them or wishes they did. Whereas [the second season] 'Asylum,' which was my favorite season, was very dark and I think sometimes people didn't want to go to that dark place.
"I just sort of feel like unlike other shows where you kind of know what the formula is, every year there's something different so you as an audience member sort of feel involved in it in a way and you get to decide whether it's for you or not. You don't sort of get to be disappointed by the characters you've come to love and expect certain things from. Every year it's new and you can reengage and reinvest and it's 13 episodes so you know you'll have a beginning, middle and an end to the story. That and the fact that Ryan Murphy really has his finger on the pulse of what makes for good television. For good anything really. It's going to be a big day for him at the Emmys too."
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on NBC on Aug. 25. The ceremonies, which are being held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, will be hosted by Seth Meyers.
Want more Emmy news? Follow me @NardineSaad.