A woman sitting in a director's chair on a film set.

How does Barbra Streisand compare directing and acting? What’s so noteworthy about her film Yentl?

According to Barbra Streisand, directing isn’t easy. But, it provides more of what she looks for in creative pursuits. In her autobiography, Streisand writes about her film directing career, and it’s easy to see how her landmark project Yentl showcases so much of her one-of-a-kind style.

Keep reading to learn the highlights of Streisand’s directing career.

Barbra Streisand’s Directing Career

According to Barbra Streisand, directing is more difficult than acting, but it’s also more interesting and fulfilling. She writes that she’s come to dislike a lot of the tedious work that comes with acting, such as learning lines and spending hours each day getting her hair and makeup ready.

(Shortform note: Another reason Streisand likely enjoys directing more than acting is that it gives her greater creative control over the movie—more than she’d have in a typical acting role. Streisand values her autonomy and likes to be in charge of her creative projects.) 

Streisand has directed numerous movies, but the most noteworthy of these is her first: the 1983 musical drama Yentl, which she also co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in.

(Shortform note: Streisand’s decision to write, direct, produce, and star in Yentl reportedly didn’t go over well with much of the (male) elite of Hollywood. The film was largely snubbed at that year’s Oscars, which some in the industry believe to be retaliation at Streisand rather than a result of the movie’s quality. The factual details of Streisand’s career are readily available. Therefore, we focus mainly on what she says about her personal experiences as a performer rather than reiterating all of the specific projects she directed.)

Yentl won a Golden Globe award for Best Picture, and Streisand became the first woman to receive a Golden Globe for Best Director.

(Shortform note: The Golden Globes are annual awards granted for excellence in film and television, both in the United States and abroad. Though not part of the coveted EGOT awards, the Golden Globes are prestigious in their own right, and receiving one is considered a great honor. Furthermore, as of 2023, Streisand is one of only three women to have ever won a Golden Globe for Best Director. The others were Chloé Zhao, who won the award in 2021, and Jane Campion, who won it in 2022.)

Barbra Streisand’s Directing: The Risk & Success of Yentl

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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