Audie Cornish

For comedian and actor Jenny Slate, the path to finding her own voice went through crushing failure (professional) and heartbreak (divorce).

She began her career in stand-up, was drafted to Saturday Night Live — and was fired. The path that followed was uncharted.

When the genre-defying British artist FKA twigs was 26, she came out with her debut album. Originally a dancer, twigs paired her experimental, highly-produced sound with artistic choreography and sweeping visuals. At 31, she's back with her follow-up, Magdalene.

Turn on HBO this Sunday night and you'll see an epic adventure unfold: it's a perilous rescue mission set in a fantastical world, filling a Game of Thrones-sized hole in the network's programming with an alternate universe full of witches, polar bears, magical animal companions and one adventurous young girl.

Yes, we're talking about His Dark Materials — originally a classic trilogy of books by author Phillip Pullman. Adapting such beloved stories for the screen was no easy feat for producer Jane Tranter.

While Kelly Lytle Hernández was growing up in San Diego near the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1980s and early '90s, she watched as people from her community, friends and neighbors, disappeared: Black youths disappeared into the prison system; Mexican immigrants disappeared through deportations.

These experiences affected her deeply.

"It was growing up in that environment that forced me to want to understand what was happening to us and why it seemed legitimate," Lytle Hernández tells All Things Considered. "And I wanted to disrupt that legitimacy."

Grief can feel like a new world emerging, swallowing up the reality you once knew and expanding into something entirely all-consuming. New York rapper Kemba used that monolithic feeling to create his major label debut album, Gilda, a record that pays tribute to his mother who passed away two years ago.

Kemba's mother raised him and his two brothers in The Bronx, N.Y., a place that gave him little choice but to be immersed in hip-hop

Nailed It! is a competition show in which home bakers try to re-create elaborate cakes — and often fail spectacularly.

"Our show is truly like: As long as you don't kill people with your food, you might win!" says co-host Nicole Byer.

So when Byer learned the Netflix program was nominated for an Emmy, she was shocked.

"The call I got from Netflix, one of the execs on the show, she was like ... 'We were — nominated?' " Byer says. "Everybody was surprised."

When it comes to comedy, Aparna Nancherla's brand is anxiety. She turns the insecurities and questions inside her mind into a brand of commentary on modern life. Her style is light and gentle, but it's rooted in a place of pain and struggle.

Poorna Jagannathan is an actress whose name you may not know, but whose face seems to pop up in many places.

She's had small roles in series like House of Cards or Better Call Saul — and bigger ones in Hulu's Ramy and HBO's The Night Of and Big Little Lies. It's a big leap from some of her early TV roles.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus remembers drawing her first laugh. The joke was performed for the benefit of her mother.

"I stuck some raisins up my nose when I was 3," she says. "Classic. Classic! ... And then we promptly went to the emergency room because I sucked them up into my brain and had to have them extracted."

Fifty years ago this August, Miles Davis assembled a group of musicians to record the sprawling, groundbreaking album Bitches Brew. With the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and James Brown in his head, Davis plugged in and brought these electric rock sensibilities to jazz.

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