The Mind Behind America's Most Empathetic Cartoon "Steven Universe" is a ratings juggernaut on Cartoon Network. It's also the network's first show created solely by a woman. The Emmy-nominated series closed its fifth season with a wedding between two female-identifying characters. We talk to showrunner Rebecca Sugar about love, hate and the courage to be "strong in the real way."

There may even be a song (or two).

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The Mind Behind America's Most Empathetic Cartoon

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The Mind Behind America's Most Empathetic Cartoon

1A

The Mind Behind America's Most Empathetic Cartoon

The Mind Behind America's Most Empathetic Cartoon

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/628885509/628964054" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Animator, director, screenwriter, producer, songwriter — Rebecca Sugar is a true Renaissance woman.

The 31-year-old Maryland native is the force behind "Steven Universe," the first Cartoon Network show created independently by a woman. The show is now in its fifth season and has become a cartoon empire — spawning video games, spin-off videos and even a double-sided album.

"Steven Universe" is about three gem-powered female aliens and the half-alien, half-human boy they raise. While it may appear to be pure fantasy, it's actually an ode to people and places from Sugar's own life, peppered with musical numbers. The protagonist, Steven, is modeled after Sugar's own brother (also named Steven), who works as a background artist on the show.

Sugar sits down with us to discuss the show's unexpected success, and the emotional impact it's had on fans — particularly in the LGBTQ+ community.