Barbra Streisand speaks out about Hollywood’s double standard and more in a wide-ranging interview in which she reminisces about being a pioneer as one of few women directors in the 1980s. She also reveals why she admires Taylor Swift and shares her opinion of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
In depth interviews with the multi-hyphenate entertainment legend are about as rare as public performances. In this wide-ranging discussion with The Hollywood Reporter — the publication is awarding her its Sherry Lansing Leadership Award this year — the 73-year-old Barbra Streisand is outspoken on a wide range of topics as she reflects back upon her decades long career.
Not least, her first turn as a director. After years of fame as a singer and actress, Streisand was a trailblazer in the early 1980s when she stepped on the other side of the camera to direct ‘Yentl,’ a movie in which she also starred as the title character, a young Jewish woman who passes as a boy so that she can study the Talmud. She received an Oscar nomination for her efforts.
She said of her first turn at directing, “It was scary. It was harder for me being an actress directing than even if I had just been a writer directing.”
She went on to explain how and why she felt so constricted. She said, “The idea of the archetype of the actress bothers me. The actress is supposed to be vain and not financially responsible for anything, and flaky. All they’re interested in is makeup or beauty products, clothes. I think that was a hard one. Probably another count against me directing it.”
She denounced Hollywood’s double standard, which had landed her with the dreaded label of “difficult” some years ago. She said, “You see, I committed a sin when I came to Hollywood [in 1967] because I came with a contract for three pictures, and I had never had a screen test. So if there is such a thing as envy or jealousy, everybody was like, “Huh? Who is she?” I wasn’t a proven factor.”
She continued, saying, “Nobody knew what I would look like onscreen or anything like that. [Producer] Ray Stark held a party for me, and Marlon Brando was there, and I think John Wayne and all these movie stars, directors and producers were there. I was late because I was scared. I sat in a corner, and I wasn’t charming.”
She went on to reflect, saying, “But what does “difficult” mean anyway? If a man on a set says something — “I want to change this shot” — they do whatever he says. Now, if a woman asks…”
Later in the interview, Barbra Streisand had high praise for Taylor Swift challenging Apple Music over its unfair practice of not compensating artists properly for their work. She said, “I loved it.”
She went on to say, “By the way, she and I are the only people who had platinum albums last year. Isn’t that fun? I love that!”
Streisand was referring to her 34th album, ‘Partners’ which saw her performing duets with a stellar lineup of male singers including Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder and John Legend. As the publication revealed she’s working on her 35th studio album.
She continued, adding, “But I don’t have time [to listen to new music.] Because I’m working on music now, I never even put music on in my car. I can’t. I listen to the news. The news interests me; what’s going on in the world, and especially about this election, which is so bizarre. It’s completely bizarre.”
And this led to a political discussion, and as we know, Streisand is not afraid to venture into politics regardless of the risk of — and sometimes the consequential — criticism and backlash.
She shared her thoughts on the Presidential candidate she’s supporting, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying of her, “At first she was a bit stiff, uncomfortable. But I know her in person, and she is warm and lovely and brilliant and speaks without notes.”
She continued, adding, “When I first saw her speak, she was using a teleprompter, which she doesn’t need. If you don’t know how to use it and make it real and add things in, it’s clumsy. So I think she’s now amazing. She has found her voice, which is her voice.”
As for Donald Trump’s candidacy, Streisand said, “He’s funny. He says the same things over and over and over again. I mean, come on. Don’t you have to have a background like Hillary or Bernie Sanders has? When I listen to the things he says, I think, “This thing can’t be happening.”
You can see the full interview here as Barbra Streisand tackles a variety of issues, shares many reflections as only one can who has had a career spanning six decades and has reigned as a living legend for half a century.
Pictures: PR Photos