‘Players’ is a Testament to Girl Friendship: Liza Koshy on her Latest Netflix Film

(L-R) Augustus Prew as Brannagan, Joel Courtney as Little, Damon Wayans Jr. as Adam and Liza Koshy as Ashley in Players. Cr. K.C. Bailey/Netflix ©2023.

It was only after I met Liza Koshy to talk to her about her character, Ashley, in the latest Netflix feature “Players” that made me see the film in a different light. Let’s just say, when I first watched the film, I wasn’t completely sold! Though a feel-good film, it had an element of predictability to it. But despite playing a secondary character, Koshy’s performance was lovely. The scene when Koshy goes from being the office secretary to being their friend who is helping them with their plays, and they end up at a park and somehow Koshy is drunk off of frozé — but in reality she isn’t! She is acting! And I love it when actors act…well. 

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After talking to Koshy, I felt uplifted and optimistic — not just about the movie but life in general. She had a lot of wisdom to share — integrated through both light-hearted banter and what felt like heart-to-heart expression. If you have free time and want to disconnect from the world for a bit, I encourage you to read the conversation below and then watch “Players”— in that order — so that you, too, can appreciate the parts of the film through Koshy’s keen point of view.

I’m so excited to be here talking to you. I’m your biggest fan.

I love my Brown Girl Mag so I’m so happy to speak to you guys today. I would say the feeling is mutual but I love y’all more!

Thank you for helping bring “Players” into the world. What attracted you to the role of Ashley and to that movie in general?

What really attracted me to Ashley was her innocence. And that’s not to say I’m nasty, but I think it was different than my own innocence. I think she’s really work-focused, and driven, and now that I’m talking about her, we are super alike. She’s the secretary at Brooklyn Ace — the newspaper — and she’s got her boss that looks over to her. In this backstory world that we created with our director Trish Sie, she looks up to Gina in a lot of ways, being a woman in the workforce and being one of the only women that works there so she’s trying to impress her. She fantasizes about being a part of the friend group. And then when she finally becomes a part of the friend group, and is welcomed, and gets that stamp of approval from a girlfriend, she’s stoked. So I relate to her in a lot of ways too, but I got to tap into that side of me that I got to live vicariously through. 

I don’t do ‘plays’ in real life. [In a southern accent] I’m a wholesome Southern woman looking for a sweet Southern man. *laughs*


Yeah, I know, I’m pitching myself.

I’ll call my friends after this.

Please! Would you mind? Thanks. To bring home a nice brown man would be great!

It’s what I’m here for. I have cousins in Sugar Land.

That medical center is a magnet — you know. All my cousins work there.

But yeah, I loved her innocence. I loved her sense of play; I loved bringing her humor to life. She’s a little more deadpan, and I can get a little more broad in real life; she’s got that wit to her. She’s willing to roleplay too. She’s just sweet.

And the script is so fun. You’re kind of reeled into the romantic relationship between the gorgeous Tom Ellis and the stunning Gina Rodriguez. You are kind of tricked into understanding that the storyline is about platonic love and is about the friendship and the emotional glue and support group that is your crew. And this crew really supports each other, and looks out for each other, and is willing to go to bat and balls to the wall for each other, and they step up to the plate for each other — and I’m going to give more sports innuendos because it’s about baseball. *laughs*

But “Players” is really about the love that you have for the friends around you, and realizing that love — more than platonic love — might be in that group too. Not to spoil the entire movie but…they [Gina Rodriguez and Damon Wayans Jr.] end up together?

(L-R) Augustus Prew as Brannagan, Damon Wayans Jr. as Adam, Gina Rodriguez as Mack, Liza Koshy as Ashley and Joel Courtney as Little in Players. Cr. K.C. Bailey/Netflix ©2023.

Did the plot and script align with your personal life in some way? What about your lived experience brought you to the movie?

Yeah, I mean being born and raised in H-Town, going to high school (Lamar High School reppin’!). My entire friend group looked out for each other the whole time. I played on a team — and by played I mean that I danced on a team because dancing is a sport, I am an athlete — don’t deny it [holds up right bicep].

Yes, yes it is.

I did drill team. I lived my Friday Night Lights dream and we all looked out for each other in terms of like, girls for girls, makeup, looking out for each others’ outfit. You know, after the football games a lot of us were future football wives, a lot of us are current ones too *laughs* and just going out afterwards to Whataburger or to Fuddruckers and going to a diner afterwards, and just the hookup culture in high school.Everybody’s so awkward and hormones are at an all-time high; it was just fun. So yes, this comes with a lived experience too of just looking out and playing it up for your friends, and trying to be the best wing woman you can be. 

Totally. And speaking of women, what do you think this movie says about women empowerment?

There’s a moment in the film where Gina Rodriguez’ character, Mack says, “I don’t have any girlfriends.” And then she approaches me and we become friends over bonding, over playing the field and going out into town and doing these ‘plays’ together. So I love that you get to see the growth between the two characters: that she [Mack] has a friend group, that she [Ashley] perfectly fits and slots into. Ashley is kind of like the missing puzzle piece that Gina needed, and supporting each other in that and running a play together in that shows how two women can lift each other up to help another one’s dream of finding the perfect man. So it’s sweet. I think [Players] is a testament to girl friendship.

And do you feel like that dream was accomplished by the end of the film? Do you feel like the ending is what Gina was looking for throughout the movie?

I think so! I’m so glad you watched the movie, but I can’t spoil the movie for others! I think Gina got what she wanted and had to go through the roughest patch possible to get there. She got caught up in this idea of who she thought she had to be for somebody or to entrap somebody who wasn’t really meant for her versus just allowing what magnetism she is — her character, Mack — brought into her life naturally, which is her friend group. You know she was creating this whole other identity to satisfy someone else’s needs and to fit into somebody else’s life and pretend and play up to love this and that just because they loved this or that — she really didn’t. 

There’s a bit of an identity crisis that her character experiences of like ‘feeling out of body and out of touch with herself’ — which we’re all guilty of doing in relationships and friendships sometimes too. You just have to cultivate that sense of self all over again and realize that what you have is better than what you could have. Especially in the age of social media, and compare and despair, and seeing so many ways and so many walks of life — there are so many ways of doing this damn thing — so to look at yourself and look in the mirror and remind yourself of what you have in abundance is important. And I think Gina’s character comes to that.

Totally! Thank you for that. My therapist just told me that when you fall for someone is when all the shadows come out and I was like that’s SO true.

Yes! And you can relapse real easily into an old way of being, old patterns, trust — I do it, I do it! And the right person will catch you when you fall into those.

Writing and rewriting your own story was very much a theme in the movie, especially since Gina is a writer. And I’m curious if you can talk a little bit about how you’re writing your own story.

My own personal story or Ashley’s story from “Players?”

(L-R) Joel Courtney as Little, Liza Koshy as Ashley and Augustus Prew as Brannagan in Players. Cr. K.C. Bailey/Netflix ©2023.

Yeah, if you don’t mind me asking personally!

No, of course, I gotchu! Well one, speaking of writers, I just want to give a shoutout to Whit Anderson who created and lived this actual strip. This woman lived through this entire experience where she actually had a playbook with her friends. So I give credit where credit is due. She created the best place and story for us to play with. And then our director Trish Sie just went off and gave us so many opportunities to have fun-runs meaning just improvise and write the story together. So we rewrote this story that was already written and I think that’s what we already do in our own personal lives too.

Whether that be, you know being a ‘child of God’ and being ‘of service to others’ and that expectation, or being a woman and being a people pleaser and that expectation, or being a brown woman at that and expecting to have this child of immigrant mentality where you put your nose to the pavement — and I did and I have. I’m a combination of all those narratives too and at the same time I’m trying to obliterate those and release myself of expectations and definitions that may be thrown on me upon looking at me. I’m trying my best to live outside of that and being a big, broad comedy and also a reeled-in dramatic woman who just loves telling stories and who just loves telling my own story in the hopes of inspiring others to do it too. When you think of Indian women sometimes, stereotypically you must assume there’s this pleasing, submissive kind of quiet, subdued idea of self that we need to be. And to be big, and broad, and bold, and apologetic is my way of counteracting that narrative that we’ve seen and that narrative we’ve seen played. And so to be vomiting on myself in “Players” *laughs* and doing the unexpected…

Wasting good rosé!

Frozé! It didn’t go to waste, it had the effect and then I let it out, you know what I mean. *Indian accent* You know I’m pre-diabetic, there’s too much sugar. *laughs*

But, yeah it’s fun to be able to smash those stereotypes and live unexpectedly.

Thank you, Liza, that’s so sweet.

I’m trying! 

I have a lot of love for you, I’m not even gonna lie.

Thank you!

I’m not from the South so I may not stand a chance, but it’s fine.

You’re from the world, honey, that’s all that matters, human family. 

Awww. So I have a couple fun questions that are based on the movie as well. In the movie, one of Ashley’s features that is most talked about is her smile. What is your favorite feature of yourself?

My smile. My dentist would love it.


I stopped wearing my retainer though. Honestly, I had an overbite and they said “we can do jaw surgery and fix your entire face” and I said, “No, I love asymmetry,” so I love my overbite, I’m not gonna lie.

It’s known around the world! Another thing that came up in the movie somehow ended up being oatmilk which kind of makes sense because we’re in 2024.

It’s creamier than almond!

So my question to you is what is your relationship to dairy, can you digest it? And what is your favorite non-dairy alternative?

[In Indian accent] “No beta, I cannot, I cannot have any dairy what do you mean? You know how I’m built. So I cannot digest it —

[In regular American accent] Sometimes when I start doing an Indian accent it goes on to become Kumail Nanjiani, but Kumail Nanjiani before he got f’ing ripped — you know what I mean? So it’s like pre-pubescent, maybe like his little cousin.

But you’re a dancer — you’re an athlete.

I am an athlete. But, I can’t have dairy. And that’s why I say in the movie; I ask Tom Ellis’ character if he’s having almond milk or oat milk and I say, ‘it is creamier than almond’ and that is just the truth. It is thick. It feels like real milk, and no I cannot have real milk.

(L-R) Liza Koshy as Ashley, Augustus Prew as Brannagan, Joel Courtney as Little and Gina Rodriguez as Mack in Players. Cr. K.C. Bailey/Netflix ©2023.

And the third fun movie-related question is: Branzino is brought up a lot in the movie. Do you enjoy a good branzino, yes or no, and why?

*Makes gagging sounds* I feel the same way [some of the characters in “Players” do] about the eyes. The eyes. They look back at you. My dad he’ll joke around, he’ll put the eye in his mouth. Or he’ll start waving the fish at us. He’ll grab it and waive it at us. 

We love a playful uncle.

*Pre-pubescent Kumail Nanjani voice* Playful uncle, crazy uncle

*Regular voice* He’s definitely the uncle that we’re the center of the crump circle at the weddings. Like it’s me and my dad and his neck. *Moves neck* Him and his neck and I. For whatever reason at Indian weddings that’s us — in the center. But he’s definitely the dad to try and mess with me with the eye. *Makes gagging sounds* My mom also gags with me.

So no branzino. OK, good to know. Is frozé your drink of choice?

No. Espresso martinis. Which I do not need.

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I will forever stan Liza Koshy and look forward to her continued evolution as a captivating artist who will hopefully be able to land more and more leading roles in the near future that illustrate her multidimensional talent that never ceases to impress me. Sitting down and chatting with her was a dream come true and I can’t wait for our paths to cross again, hopefully over a warm cup of homemade chai.

By saahil mehta

saahil sees themself as a writer and intercultural educator who has learned the importance of storytelling in the classroom, first … Read more ›