Mimi Leder
Leder at the 75th Annual Peabody Awards
Miriam Leder

(1952-01-26) January 26, 1952 (age 72)
EducationAFI Conservatory
Occupation(s)Film director, film producer, script supervisor
Years active1976–present
SpouseGary Werntz
ChildrenHannah Leder

Miriam Leder (/ˈldər/;[1][2] born January 26, 1952) is an American film and television director and producer;[3] she is noted for her action films and use of special effects.[4] She has directed the films The Peacemaker (1997), Deep Impact (1998), Pay It Forward (2000), and On the Basis of Sex (2018). She was the first female graduate of the AFI Conservatory, in 1973. She has been nominated for ten Emmy Awards, winning two.[5]

Early life

Miriam Leder was born in New York City in 1952, the daughter of Etyl, a classical pianist, and Paul Leder, a director, producer, actor, writer, and editor of films including My Friends Need Killing, Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla, and Dismember Mama.[6][7] Leder grew up in Los Angeles in a Jewish household. Her mother is a Holocaust survivor – concretely, an Auschwitz survivor – from Brussels, Belgium.[8] During childhood, her father, a low-budget independent filmmaker, introduced Mimi and her siblings to film production. Her father often dropped her off at the cinema to watch the latest films. Leder said that one of the early films which had an impact on her was Federico Fellini's .[6] She was the first woman accepted into the AFI Conservatory, where she studied cinematography.

Film career

Leder began her career as a script supervisor on a string of films, including Spawn of the Slithis (1978), Dummy (1979), The Boy Who Drank Too Much (1980), and A Long Way Home (1980) and then moved to the TV series Hill Street Blues (1981). After making the short film Short Order Dreams, written and funded by her father Paul,[9] she screened it for Steven Bochco, creator of Hill Street Blues, and his friend Gregory Hoblit who hired her to direct an episode of L.A. Law.

In 1988, Leder directed episodes of Crime Story, The Bronx Zoo, Midnight Caller, then directed several episodes of China Beach (1988–91) for which she was nominated for four Emmys. She made the made-for-TV films Woman with a Past (1992), House of Secrets (1993), and Baby Brokers (1994), then became one of the core directors for ER (1994–2009). The show earned her Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series in 1995 and 1996. She returned to direct an episode of the series during its final season in 2009. She soon received a job offer from Steven Spielberg to direct the film The Peacemaker (1997).

Continuing to work for DreamWorks, she directed Deep Impact (1998) and Pay It Forward (2000) while simultaneously creating Sentimental Journey (1999), a personal love story about her parents. When asked for a reaction about her film Deep Impact (1998) vs. a rival movie release at the same time Armageddon (1998), she responded: “Michael Bay did come to my premiere, which really shocked me. And I can tell you that after—after [seeing] my film—he went and reshot the end of his.”[10] After making Pay It Forward Leder went through a period where she wasn't hired to direct any feature films. “Most women who don’t have commercial success are not asked back to the party. It did not hurt me in television, but it did in features.”[11] Leder felt as though she had been put into a "movie jail" by Hollywood for the lack of success of Pay It Forward.[11][12]

Leder's dry spell of feature films after the release of Pay It Forward drove her to other pursuits in television and film. She shot nine pilots and produced six series, including The Beast (2001), John Doe (2002), Johnny Zero (2005), and Vanished (2006). Leder also made many made-for-TV movies such as Thick as Thieves (2009), U.S. Attorney (2009), and Heavenly (2011).[13] In 2015, Leder was brought by HBO to direct a first-season episode of The Leftovers and later hired as a co-showrunner.

Leder's feature film On the Basis of Sex, the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's path to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, was released in December 2018. It was Leder's first theatrical feature in 18 years.[14]

Personal life

Leder has a daughter, Hannah, with her husband actor Gary Werntz.[15] Mimi Leder has said she "was raised a feminist" and "was an anti-war protester all during the Vietnam War."[16]


Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1997 The Peacemaker Director [17]
1998 Deep Impact Director [18][19]
1999 Sentimental Journey
2000 Pay It Forward Director [20]
2009 Thick as Thieves Director
2018 On the Basis of Sex Director [21]


TV Movies

Year Title Notes
1988 Nightingales Pilot for the 1989 TV series
1990 Sisters Pilot for the 1991 TV series
1991 A Little Piece of Heaven
1992 Woman with a Past
1993 Marked for Murder
There Was a Little Boy [22]
Rio Shannon
House of Secrets
1994 Baby Brokers
The Innocent
2009 U.S. Attorney Also executive producer
2010 The Quinn-tuplets
2011 Heavenly

TV Series

Year Title Director Producer Notes
1987 L.A. Law Yes Episodes "Fifty Ways to Floss Your Lover" and "Oy Vey! Wilderness!"
1988 A Year in the Life Yes Episode "The Little Disturbance of Man" and "Glory Days"
Crime Story Yes Episode "The Hearings"
The Bronx Zoo Yes Episode "On the Land, on the Sea and in the Halls"
Midnight Caller Yes Episode "After It Happened"
1988–1991 China Beach Yes Yes Director (13 episodes)
Producer (22 episodes)
Supervising producer (16 episodes)
2001 The Beast Yes Executive Episode "The Price"
2002–2003 John Doe Yes Executive Directed 5 episodes
2005 Jonny Zero Yes Executive Directed 4 episodes
2006 The West Wing Yes Episode "Election Day Part I"
Related Yes
Vanished Yes Executive Directed 4 episodes [23]
1994–2009 ER Yes Yes Director (11 episodes)
Supervising producer (14 episodes)
Co-executive producer (11 episodes)
2010 Human Target Yes "The Wife's Tale"
2011–2012 Shameless Yes 6 episodes
2012 Smash Yes Episodes "The Workshop" and "The Dress Rehearsal"
Luck Yes "Episode Nine"
2014–2017 The Leftovers Yes Executive Directed 10 episodes
2019–present The Morning Show Yes Executive Directed 11 episodes [24]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Notes
1990 Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series China Beach Nominated [5]
1991 American Film Institute Franklin J. Schaffner Award Won
Emmy Award Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series China Beach Nominated [5]
Outstanding Drama Series Nominated [5]
1992 Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Nominated [5]
1995 ER Won [5]
Outstanding Drama Series Nominated [5]
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Nominated
1996 Nominated
Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series Won [5]
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Nominated [5]
1997 Directors Guild of America Award Nominated
2000 Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards Dorothy Arzner Award Won
2006 Emmy Award Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series The West Wing Nominated [5]
2020 Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series The Morning Show (Episode: "The Interview") Nominated [5]



  1. ^ "Say How: L". National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  2. ^ Murphy, Mekado (January 11, 2019). "'On the Basis of Sex' | Anatomy of a Scene". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "Mimi Leder". TVGuide.com. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  4. ^ Hurd, Mary G. Women Directors and Their Films. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Nominations Search | Emmy Awards". Television Academy. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Brodesser, Claude (June 2000). "Helmer: Leder Among Men". Daily Variety: A4 – via JSTOR.
  7. ^ "Mimi Leder Biography". filmreference.com. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "Healing the World". Jewish Journal. October 26, 2000.
  9. ^ Gregory, Mollie. Women Who Run the Show: How a Brilliant and Creative New Generation of Women Stormed Hollywood. New York: St. Martin's, 2002.
  10. ^ O’Connell, Michael (October 2019). "Mimi Leder: Apple's Trailblazing The Morning Show Director on How to Shoot Jennifer Aniston, Her Time in 'movie Jail and Working in TV Long before It Was Cool". Hollywood Reporter.
  11. ^ a b Scott, Tobias (October 2015). "Veteran TV Director Still Tries to Scale Film Barriers". New York Times: C2 – via JSTOR.
  12. ^ Sperling, Nicole. "Between the Acts | Vanity Fair | October 2018". Vanity Fair | The Complete Archive. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  13. ^ "Mimi Leder: Television Director, Producer." The Paley Center for Media: She Made It. Curator Ron Simon. The Paley Center for Media. Web. May 5, 2012.
  14. ^ "The Long Road from Pay It Forward to Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Inside Director Mimi Leder's Return to the Big Screen". Vanity Fair. September 7, 2018. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  15. ^ Sperling, Nicole (September 7, 2018). "The Long Road from Pay It Forward to Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Inside Director Mimi Leder's Return to the Big Screen". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Rochlin, Margy (Spring 2018). "For Mimi Leder, Persistence Pays Off". Directors Guild of America Quarterly.
  17. ^ March 20, Ty Burr Updated; EST, 1998 at 05:00 AM. "The Peacemaker". EW.com. Retrieved December 27, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ "Deep Impact | Film | The Guardian". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  19. ^ May 14, EW Staff Updated; EDT, 1998 at 04:00 AM. "Deep Impact". EW.com. Retrieved December 27, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "Pay It Forward | Film | The Guardian". www.theguardian.com. July 21, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  21. ^ December 17, Maureen Lee Lenker; EST, 2018 at 06:18 PM. "'On the Basis of Sex' is an inspiring, schmaltzy RBG biopic: EW review". EW.com. Retrieved December 27, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Scott, Tony (May 13, 1993). "CBS Sunday Movie There Was a Little Boy". Variety. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  23. ^ Lowry, Brian (August 16, 2006). "Vanished". Variety. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  24. ^ VanArendonk, Kathryn (November 6, 2019). "How Mimi Leder Made The Morning Show Look Real, Onscreen and Off". Vulture. Retrieved December 27, 2022.