My grandma Barbara really loves Barbra Streisand. I haven't asked, but if you offered her the chance to befriend Babs in exchange for all her grandkids, I'm not entirely sure we wouldn't be what you might call chopped liver. So when I heard Streisand was coming to the Tribeca Film Festival to give a talk with director Robert Rodriguez, I knew my grandma needed to be in the audience.
The gospel of Barbra has always been preached in our family. At a young age, I remember watching Streisand sing "Don't Rain on My Parade" in Funny Girl, the 1968 film that propelled her to international stardom. (The role landed Babs her first Oscar, which she shares with Katherine Hepburn—the only time there's been a tie in the Best Actress category.) Visiting New York City for the first time at 13, I fantasized about belting the show-stopping tune on a tugboat, just like Fanny Brice does in the film.
But despite being a nerdy kid, there's a lot about Streisand's biography I just didn't know. There's a reason she's an icon to millions—and not just women of a certain age and gay men. She's a feminist pioneer and a political firebrand. She's an underdog, who rose from the Brooklyn projects to the pinnacle of celebrity. After her Q&A at Tribeca, I was frankly floored. The quotes in this article are taken from her hourlong conversation with Rodriguez. Sparkling with Streisand's signature brash wit and intimate anecdotes, they provide a glimpse into the psyche of a woman who's vanquished her haters and emerged victorious.
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