Barbra Streisand was born to direct - even as a child she was directing her mother - and now directing movies has become her professional passion.

Her latest work, according to an article in the current issue of Cosmopolitan, is as producer, director and co-star with Nick Nolte of the movie "The Prince of Tides.""Being a director is probably the best job for me," she said, "because I was a kid who always told her mother what to do. It's the way I was brought up; my mother gave me so much power."

Streisand has found that directing gives her more of the personal freedom that has eluded her as a perfectionistic and sometimes reclusive performer.

As an example, she said one day while shooting "The Prince of Tides" in New York City's Greenwich Village, she found she had not hired enough cars to create a really chaotic traffic scene.

"So I walk down the street - which is great, because as Barbra Streisand the actress I would've been so shy," she said, "but now as Barbra Streisand the director I can use being known as an actress - so I walk over to some guy's car and go, `Hi, I'm Barbra Streisand; I'm directing a movie here. Would you mind being in the shot?' "

She spoke with irritation about a magazine writer who asked a colleague whether she was controlling or demanding as a director.

"Well, what about nurturing and supportive?" she asked. "Why not try that? Because I am controlling and demanding. I think all good directors are and must be. I have an instinct, a vision, a truth barometer. I like the truth. I like small moments. I like real feelings, and I can hear the difference.

"But you don't get good performances just by being controlling and demanding. I'm a woman. I'm a mother. I know that to get the best out of people, you have to be kind and gentle and nurturing and caring."

She made her directorial debut with "Yentl" eight years ago and still smarts about the people who dismissed her as either a willful dabbler or a control freak.

"For many years," she said, "I'd sit there watching certain directors and wonder, `Why did they put the camera there instead of there? Why are they letting that actor get away with that performance when it could be so much better? Why are they just settling for less?' And for so many years, if I expressed an opinion, I'd be out of line."

She said "The Prince of Tides" was about being flawed and forgiving your flaws. She remembered her childhood, saying:

"I'd say, `Ma, why didn't you ever give me compliments?' and she'd say, `I didn't want you to have a swelled head.' So a child grows up feeling very insecure . . . if they don't have parents who gaze at them . . . just gaze. . . . When you're a baby with parents who lovingly gaze at you, then you figure you're worth being gazed at."

Three weeks into production on "The Prince of Tides" her mother underwent coronary surgery and her perspective changed.

"I remember feeling, once my mother survived her operation, that this was all such a gift," she said. "I mean, the movie was only a movie, but how lucky I was to have this opportunity to have my mother still alive, that that was the important thing - life."

Her real-life son, Jason, plays her son in the movie and there was one problem - when Streisand objected to the way he read a line and Jason became angry. Streisand recalled:

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"I said, `Jason, you have to separate here. I'm saying everything you're doing is wonderful, but I don't believe this particular line reading, and I can't lie to you, so let's work on it, and don't get mad at me as your . . . mother."'

Streisand told Joe Morgenstern in Cosmopolitan about herself as a director, saying:

"What I do know is that I'm tired of apologizing for who I am. I'm tired of defending my being difficult or whatever, because it's such nonsense.

"I am a person who's in pursuit of excellence. I think I'm a good person and a kind person and a compassionate person, though I'm also impatient because I do have a singleness of purpose, and anyone who doesn't like it can lump it."

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