Actress-Producer Liza Koshy: Stop Telling Women “We Can’t”

For those who feel that 21-year-old actress Liza Koshy, may be too loud, too opinionated or too much of anything, she doesn't feel too bothered by the criticism.

"When a woman is assertive, it's given a different title than what would be given to a man," the outspoken actress-producer recently told MAKERS. "That can impact the woman's thoughts and also the way that she expresses herself. But it shouldn't."

"Women have always been told we cannot. We have to stick to certain societal norms and act this way, look this way, and be this way when there's no need to conform. There has never been a reason to conform," Koshy says. "It's about being very firm in who you are and not letting anybody else tell you who you are."

Spoken like a true TroubleMAKER. Koshy—who has a following of 14 million strong on YouTube—also injects her feminism into her YouTube Red show Liza on Demand, in which she addresses sexism. "From being catcalled, to being told to 'smile, beautiful!', to saying I can't do a job because I'm not a man. This show gives archetypes the not always perfectly manicured middle finger—all through humor," Koshy told more than 500 feminists gathered at the 2018 MAKERS Conference.

For Women's History Month, Koshy shares her list of the TroubleMAKERS who have inspired her to unapologetically raise her voice—from actress Zendaya to comedian and activist Chelsea Handler to Mama Koshy. Oh, and she has some ideas for who she'd like to vote for in 2020. (Michelle Obama, we're looking at you.)

1. Chelsea Handler

She's always been so funny and so open and so willing to push out of the box. She's a very strong force who refuses to conform to how women are "supposed to act." She doesn't even know what sugarcoating is, and that's brilliant.

2. Yara Shahidi

She's not only a brown girl who has her own show that speaks to so many relevant topics like inclusion, racism and sexism. She carries those themes into her real life, constantly speaking out about these issues. She's young, smart, aware and confident from the inside out. I'm voting for her in 2020.

3. Zendaya

One of my favorite people is Zendaya. I respect her and idolize her—and she's younger than I am. She's so well informed and she's willing to inform others which is what she has made her job: Outside of acting, singing, dancing and designing her own inclusive clothing line, she's determined to be a role model for young children. She's spoken about how she stayed with the Disney Channel in part because she wanted to be a voice for young girls, especially for young brown girls. She maintains this beautiful balance of being a role model to young children while also being a role model for women of all ages.

4. Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson

What they've created in Broad City is just amazing and hilarious. These two independent, hilarious women understood that they created a platform for themselves to speak upon relevant, controversial and conversation-starting topics. As their audience grew, so did their willingness to speak out. With so many eyes, one can easily become hesitant, but they became persistent in their goal. They created a show that addressed political, social, sexist, stereotypical perspectives in the most hilarious, outspoken and occasionally naked, way.

5. Gloria Steinem

An empowered leader whose mission was to empower others through her writing, speaking and genuine presence. I was graced with the opportunity to feel her strength and radiating positivity at the MAKERS Conference. I haven't been the same since. My dreams are even better now.

6. Amy Poehler

A brilliant role model who has been paving the way for young female comedians for decades. She's been a woman in the spotlight proving that women "can be funny," despite the comments made from undeveloped brains. She is a force, from creating shows like Broad City, and Parks and Recreation that speak to a progressive culture within the industry to creating Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. An organization devoted to the mission and message she's been delivering throughout her entire career, to empower young girls to be who they are despite the social construct around them.

7. Deborah Kaplan

A beautiful, brilliant writer, creator, producer, and hard working mother of the show that I am currently working on, Liza on Demand. I have grown and learned so much through her, an empowered, independent woman herself. She is a female director who cared to make sure that our set was fair, and personally ensured that our cast and crew was a 50/50 split of women and men. A balanced lady, just ensuring even more balance.

8. Margaret Cho

As an Asian lesbian in comedy, she's a minority in nearly every sense of the word, according to society. But society received the middle finger. The more Margaret was told "no" and restricted in her roles, the harder she fought, and the louder her voice became. She shared her experiences and informed the world with humor and honesty. She entertained while carrying these heavy, truthful messages. She allowed people to laugh, while also feeling her pain. She's dope, I'd vote for her in 2020, too.

9. Ellen DeGeneres

She has stood the test of time and was one of the first to use her platform to speak out as a lesbian in comedy. I've always respected her because of her positivity while carrying these messages through her humor. She has used her platform to spread a message of positivity, equality and femininity. She has experience in nearly every area of this industry, and she carries her wisdom through her sweet personality, and fresh witty humor. How many people can I vote for in 2020?

10. Tiffany Haddish

She speaks out unfiltered and unapologetic, which makes her so fun and refreshing to see. She's worked her ass off for years and, even through the "no you can't"-s, continued to persevere and stay competent and humble and even more hilarious. This ballot for 2020 is unusually long and appropriately female.

11. Kathrine Switzer

She was so brave because she knew what she was doing being the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, and how much she stood for in that moment. She realized she couldn't give up because she wasn't just running for herself—she was running for women. She instantly became this symbolic figure of who we are as a gender and that is so much pressure. And I think that's the way it's always been for women. If one of us fails, it discredits all of us. That's one thing I hope to speak about more and work past is that we know we are not to be generalized. We can unite and come together, but we're individuals at the same time.

12. Michelle Obama

She allowed herself to be a light of hope and purpose while the spotlight shone on her. She understood the presence and importance of the influential platform she stood upon. She never stood by, she stood beside. They shared the presidency. She and Barack have created so many beautiful moments and organizations for young girls and the next generation to come, like Let Girls Learn and Let's Move! Even though she says she doesn't want to be on the ballot, I plan on somehow having lunch with her and convincing her to.

13. Jean Koshy

Yes, my momma. She made three (pretty cute) women who raise their voices, which is pretty impressive. She has been my rock and my foundation, showing me how to be a solid, hard-working individual who is not going to let anybody or what they say, bring me down. I was blessed to have her as my example to emulate.

Original article can be found here.

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