Francesca Sloane Talks the Power of Original Storytelling at IndieWire Honors

On June 6, the 2024 IndieWire Honors ceremony celebrated 13 creators and stars responsible for some of the most stellar work of the TV season. Curated and selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, the event was a new edition of previous IndieWire Honors ceremonies, this time focused entirely on television. We showcased their work with new interviews leading up to the Los Angeles celebration.

Inspired by the popular 2005 film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Amazon Prime’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” series had a lot going for it: Stars Maya Erskine and Donald Glover both came off extremely popular series (“Pen15” and “Atlanta”), guest stars included John Turturro, Parker Posey, Ron Perlman, Michaela Coel, and many others, and they shot on location in New York City and Italy. But the secret weapon of the spy romance? Newly minted showrunner Francesca Sloane.

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On June 6, at the 2024 IndieWire Honors, the writer/producer received the Breakthrough Award for her work on the series, which meshed relationship-building with spycraft to create a must-watch entertainment.

While accepting the award, Sloane admitted to being overwhelmed in front of so many peers (and a few legends). “This is terrifying and also very, very cool. I feel like when I get a compliment, I feel a lot like that Homer Simpson meme where you sort of go into the bush a little bit, and I feel like an award is a compliment, so I feel a little of that, but I mostly feel just really honored to be here surrounded by all of you,” she said. “Quinta [Brunson], for instance, my mom was a single public school teacher in Philly, so, we’re not supposed to end up here wearing clothes that look like they were made by The Lorax. I also feel really scared right now that I just made a joke in front of like, comedy legends, so this is also very terrifying, but thank you.”

After giving thanks to family, friends, and collaborators, Sloane reflected on the unlikely journey that led her to this place and how IndieWire has always seemed to be along for the ride.

“IndieWire was the first publication that ever mentioned my name,” Sloane said. “It was totally weird, and it was many years ago. It was for a show I wrote on. I was a little writer on it. And it was the 30 best-ranked episodes of that year, and I couldn’t believe it. And the number one person on that list, it was ‘Atlanta,’ ‘Teddy Perkins.’ And I was number 10 on that, and I remember looking at that number one spot and saying like, ‘Hell yeah.’ Like, that is true, original, subversive storytelling, and what would I give to be able to work on something like that. Nothing is more surreal than standing here in this Lorax-galore dress having made a show with Donald Glover and getting recognized in any capacity. The fact that anyone’s watched the show at all, let alone liked it, is really crazy to me.”

Closing out her speech, Sloane brought the crowd back to her first day on set with director Hiro Murai, the cast, the crew, and New York City as their playground. She told the audience at Citizen News in Hollywood, “We were in Tribeca, it was our first day, there were stunt drivers, and we were in Manhattan, and Maya Erskine was wearing this beautiful red dress. Donald’s wearing a suit, and Hiro and I were looking around, and there’s all of these lights, and we’re these scrappy, low-budget kids. We just were like, how the hell are they letting us get away with making this, and I feel that way about every single day of my life. As a society, we are craving really original storytelling, and I really hope we get to make more and more of that and that the tide shifts in the direction of that original storytelling. And while I really appreciate this. I am really terrified that you guys just made me do public speaking in front of all of you, but thank you so so much.”

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