Colleen Hayes/FX

How does an Emmy-winning voice actor, scene-stealing character actor and Emmy nominated writer-producer get to be a breakout star some 34 years after her first screen appearances in Little Darlings and Grease 2? Well, in FX’s Better Things, Adlon was able to tap into a wealth of embarrassments, disappointments, setbacks and triumphs from her career and her personal life as the mother of three girls. And by “tap into,” I mean that Adlon (with an assist from frequent collaborator Louis C.K.) was able to create the role of a lifetime for herself, producing and writing and even making her directing debut. Adlon’s Sam Fox could be brash and uncompromising, defeated and uncertain, maternal, sexual, you name it. Adlon serves as a reminder to any actor in Hollywood that sometimes if you want people to see all the things you can do, you have to do it all yourself. It helps if you’re as talented as she is. — Daniel Fienberg

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