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Inaugural Indiewire Honors to Celebrate James Franco, Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani and More

IndieWire, the definitive outlet for creative independence in film and TV, will launch IndieWire Honors — celebrating six of the biggest names in entertainment with an event November 2 in Los Angeles as well as video coverage and interviews with the honorees that will be featured on Indiewire.com.

“For more than 20 years, IndieWire has celebrated the fresh talent who help advance unique and original storytelling,” said IndieWire Editor in Chief Dana Harris. “This event highlights the best and brightest who remain true to their voice.”

“At the heart of this event is IndieWire’s mission to advocate for distinctive artists who push boundaries,” said IndieWire Publisher James Israel. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have this amazing group for our first IndieWire Honors.”

Selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, the first-ever honorees are familiar names on the cusp of even greater success. They include:

Mary J. Blige — Breakthrough Performance (Film). Mary J. Blige is already a musical superstar, but now she’s being recognized as an actress for her work in the Netflix film “Mudbound,” directed by Dee Rees. The Grammy-winning performer made her feature debut as the star of Darnell Martin’s 2001 “Prison Song,” and her stunning “Mudbound” performance as sharecropper Florence Jackson received raves at the film’s Sundance Film Festival premiere. As the applause carries her into the awards season, it announces an exciting new stage of her career.

Sterling K. Brown — Lead Performance (Television). With back-to-back Emmy wins as Christopher Darden in “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” and as Randall Pearson in NBC’s “This Is Us,” Sterling K. Brown is one of the most dynamic actors working in television. His performance in “This Is Us” showcases his commitment to creating vibrant and emotionally challenging characters. On the film side, Brown currently appears in “Marshall” and has three films next year: “Black Panther,” “The Predator,” and “Hotel Artemis.”

James Franco — Vanguard Award (Film). A lionhearted actor, writer, and director, Franco is recognized here for his transformative portrayal of the star and director of “The Room” in A24’s upcoming “The Disaster Artist” (In theaters nationwide December 8), which Franco also produced and directed. The film, as well as Franco’s performance asTommy Wiseau, the man who created the world’s worst movie, represents a wholehearted commitment to the independent spirit — and it’s a tremendous achievement in his proliferate filmmaking career.

Diane Kruger — Lead Performance (Film). Diane Kruger earned the top acting prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her work in Magnolia Pictures’ “In The Fade,” in which she portrays a mother reeling from the death of her husband and child after a terrorist attack. It’s one of the most daring and intense performances this year, but she’s long been known as a fearless actress and general badass from a body of work that includes “Inglorious Basterds” and “The Bridge.”

Kumail Nanjiani — Creative Independence Award (Film). Kumail Nanjiani is the master of DIY: He and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, co-wrote their romance into the year’s biggest independent film, Amazon Studios’ romantic comedy “The Big Sick.” Nanjiani brought resonance and charm as its star, and his mic-drop of a performance as recent host of “Saturday Night Live” was made all the more awesome by his first credit: In 2008, he was “Indian Reporter” on a SNL episode hosted by James Franco.

Issa Rae — Vanguard Award (Television). Issa Rae is the self-made woman. She created her success with “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” an award-winning YouTube series and New York Times bestseller. That led her to create and star in HBO’s “Insecure,” now in its second season. One of the rare TV shows to capture the true diversity of Los Angeles, “Insecure” retains all of Rae’s charm, edge, and idiosyncrasy — and is funny as hell.

The honorees will be celebrated at an intimate cocktail reception November 2, with profiles and video interviews running on Indiewire.com.

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