In male-dominated Hollywood where big box-office action movies are usually ruled by male directors, Mimi Leder has broken the mold by directing action thrillers such as "Deep Impact" and "The Peacemaker."
"When Hollywood started, it was a boys club and in many ways, it still is," Leder said. "Hopefully, one day, you know, they'll look at me and say … 'I want Mimi Leder the director,' not Mimi Leder the woman director."
George Clooney, who starred in 1997's "Peacemaker," praised Leder's work style.
"She's easy to get along with," Clooney said. "She knows exactly what she wants to do."
Leder's family helped fuel her drive. Her father, Paul Leder, was a filmmaker and her mother was an Auschwitz survivor. Her parents prepared her well for battling insurmountable odds in Hollywood and in life.
"What my father told me was never to be afraid," Leder said. "There's a lot of people stopping you. And even when you reach success, there are people trying to bring you down, and to not be afraid of the things that cross my path. That I can conquer them."
Leder handled the challenges of her first film quite well, according to Clooney.
"You know, it's very difficult to go off in the middle of Bratislava, you know, for your first film, and she nailed it," he said. "She is, she is tremendously talented."
What Leder loves most about making movies isn't hanging out with stars or staging disasters, but exploring the quiet, emotional core of the story and characters, which she did in the 2000 film "Pay It Forward" and her 1998 film, "Deep Impact."
"Here I had this little baby that the parents were giving to their daughter to save," she said of "Deep Impact."
"They knew they were going to die. There was this highly emotional moment of giving life, and it was a very difficult sequence to shoot, but it was very exciting to shoot."
Leder, who is a proud member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will vote on who brings home the Oscars on Sunday.
"I think being a member of the Academy brings an acknowledgement of your craft. It says, 'Hey, you know what you're doing there,'" she said with a laugh.
As for aspiring women directors trying to break into a man's world, Leder has some simple and inspiring advice.
"Go. Do it. Do it with all your heart," she said. "Do it with your eyes wide open. Enjoy it. Have fun. Tell your stories. And don't let anybody ever tell you you're not good enough."