The man, the musician, the mercury.

Van Hunt with Phyllis Foundis

So here’s what I love about the genesis of my interviews… they are totally and utterly unpredictable in terms of who, when and why I will attract certain human beings to my luscious L.

The time was mid-2018, a turbulent year for me emotionally and yet, the stars were aligning even if they did appear to be outta my reach. Still, I’ve learnt that, sometimes that’s where they need to be for magic to happen. Sounds weird? It gets weirder in a really wonderful way. So… back to mid-2018.

Van Hunt had come onto my radar.

I’d heard a few of his tracks, fell in love with Precious, flirted with Down Here in Hell with You, funked out to Hot Stage Lights. In other words, it was game on for the Hunt. So, one evening on an impulse, I sent an email to Van’s website, it was his customer service address if I’m not mistaken. And I basically wrote in one of those ‘contact us’ forms,

Hello Mr Hunt! When are you coming to Australia? I think it’s time you brought your unique flavour of noir soul to our beautiful shores. And I’ll interview you for my YouTube channel when you get here. 😊
Best Wishes, Phyllis 
aka Daredevil Baby

Yep, the cringetastic factor of the Daredevil Baby sign-off isn’t lost on me, but, I was feeling kinda daredevilly sending a wildly unsolicited invitation to a stranger – “…listen, V to tha H, you don’t know me from a bar of proverbial, but when you’re next in my town, just shun the usual media blah-blahs and buzz me.” Understand dearest reader, my spontaneous call-out was way, way before L was born… in fact her ruby cashmere form was barely lint in my eye… But as someone wise once told me, if ya don’t ask, ya don’t get.

A day later, on my birthday to be exact, someone from the Van Hunt Customer Service replied to my email.

Hi Phyllis. Australia is calling us? Well, we’re going to be answering soon.
Take care, and thanks for writing.

There was no sign-off. No name. A few more brief emails pinged back and forth from the same anonymous Customer Service representative. There was even one message where the person complimented me on my TEDx talk. Hm. Surely, this couldn’t be the V?* Could it? Didn’t he have minions? Dude’s won a Grammy. Minions are like a gift with purchase, right? Apologies to all the minions doing great selfless work – bopping to Pharrell’s Happy. But I digress. Basically, I was never really sure who I was communicating with. Then, hello 2019 and I receive another email from Van Hunt Customer Service. And the same mystery person writes,

Hi Phyllis. It is finally happening. Melbourne will be first… shows in Sydney and Brisbane to follow. Hope to see you. 

A few months later, I blinked and Van Hunt was walking onto my very cold – but warm-hearted – set at Fox Studios, Sydney. Actually scratch that. It was more of a glide, and yes, cool in that unaffected “if-I-wanna-wear-a-large-mustard-coloured-shawl-I-will-ok?”

A lot of unforgettable little moments punctuated that day for me… from watching Van sing along to Prince’s, She’s Always in My Hair to having a front row seat to an acoustic guitar performance of Precious as the requisite smoke machine did its swirly smokey thing… but, they’re not the moments that stayed with me the most.

What will blaze bright in my memories forever more were the few minutes my then 13 year old son, Dean chatted animatedly with Van about the Universe, constellations and a little bit of quantum physics.

Yes, the stars had aligned.

*So was it he? Well, all I’ll say is that, sometimes, even mercury can be pinned down.


Dean chatting with Van Hunt about the Universe, constellations and a little bit of quantum physics



Coming face to face with a flaneur.

Phyllis Foundis and David Duffy chat on the Lip Lounge

When David Duffy first walked onto our set, my crew immediately nicknamed him, Yoda. Personally, the resemblance I could not see.

David is not diminutive in stature. Instead of a green pallor, his cheeks are rosy red. The man also has hair. But I do have to concede on one similarity between D and Y. The gentle, unforced wisdom; while Skywalker’s squat pal* is quick with the profound quips, David Duffy also speaks with a sage-like quality only his sentences hang around a little longer after having spent a century or two in the pages of a Jane Austen novel.

I met David when I attended one of his Humanist Society meetings in Chippendale, Sydney. He’s been convening these noisy, fantastically diverse gatherings since the 70s. And whatever the crowd’s doing, David can handle it. Political bickering? No problem. Raucous opinions flailing the hapless speaker who merely asked for questions? David’s got you. He’s like an impeccably mannered, jousting knight who can impale you with wit and a sharp phrase or two – only you wouldn’t feel a thing. Obviously, when we met, I knew immediately I wanted to hear his story, somehow, someway. Also, the man gives me vocab envy like no one I know.

So when L took her rightful place in front of the cameras and I joined her, I invited Mr Duffy to speak his truth on the show. And I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did his story reveal a lost love and a passion for humanity that goes beyond wanting to save it (!), I also learned a brand, new fabulous word – flaneur.

I’ll leave it up to David to define it for you during a conversation that has my teen son desperate to meet him over and above any of the other ‘stars’ L and I have hosted.

Needless to say, my family and I are Duffy fans. And in a world that continues to slavishly worship youth and glamour over wisdom and unaffected heart and smarts, this is one conversation that will stay with you long after you watch it.

So, to paraphrase a verdant alien…

Do watch or watch not. There is no maybe.


*My teenaged son / Star Wars geek of a child has just chastised me thus, 
“A squat pal, Mama?!! He was an enlightened tutor who taught Luke Skywalker about the intricacies of the Force which the Jedi now takes for granted!”
Like, I said, squat pal.

Strictly speaking, a random tweet isn’t how a friendship with Paul Mercurio should start…

Phyllis Foundis and Paul Mercurio chat on the Lip Lounge

The year was 2015 and I was in Melbourne for the annual Screen Producers of Australia (SPA) conference. The event was a little bit thrilling since it capped off what had been a dream couple of years for me, creatively.

My men’s talk show had aired on a few community TV stations around Oz, I’d won two presenting awards for ‘best new talent’ at the tender age of 45 and then SPA named me one of 15 producers nationwide as a Ones To Watch – um, a producer to watch.

I was on a high. And totally in love with my industry. Everything was going my way, goddammit! Tall Poppy? What madness do you speak of?!

I attended the conference with my fellow ‘watchees’… soaked up the panel discussions, the interviews with American guests in expensive sneakers and even pricier Hollywood advice, rubbed proverbials with industry players. And Twitter. Yes, I was going nuts on Twitter. Firing off this pic and that pithy summary. Making observations. Generating Foundis wit. I was on fire, I tell ya. And then… out of the blue one morning, a man claiming to be a famous Aussie actor replied to one of my missives. His humour, dry. His responses, quick. Was this the same man who made women melt with his floppy fringe, beaded bolero and cuban heels? Surely, not.

Well, in my world, everything is possible. Even random tweets from Paul Mercurio – actually especially unexpected missives from such a celebrated dancing dude.

So, we exchanged a few notes on Twitter where we talked movies, opportunities, LA and even his passion for spicy chicken rubs, we decided to stay in touch. Paul met my family a year later in Sydney. We did the Facebook catch up thing occasionally. And then A Little Bit of Lip launched and I reached out to him in early 2019. I knew he had a story that went beyond the ballroom and when Paul sat with L and I, he delivered.

But this isn’t about painting a ridiculously perfect picture of an actor I’ve always admired. I’m bored just writing that sentence. No.

This is about shining a light on the man who did the meteoric rise to fame stuff in the early 90s, boarded the Hollywood train too, bought the t-shirt, came back down to earth, did the Aussie TV shows, shot some shorts, embarked on a cooking career and today has one of the most intimate, vulnerable and endearing takes on this beautiful mess we call life you’re likely to hear.

Who knew that one random tweet would bless me with a conversation I will never forget. And don’t even get me started on the man’s dip.


A chance carpark meeting inspired by fresh produce and cheesy grins.

Phyllis Foundis and Anne-Marie Cavaco chat on the Lip Lounge

The first time I met Anne-Marie, she’d been sitting in her car outside a supermarket late one night, watching me as I sat in my car. Creepy right? On the surface, sure.

But, let’s add a little bit of context.

We had both arrived at a late-night shoot for a Woolworths ad. I didn’t know this at the time, but Anne-Marie and I shared the same agent. We also didn’t know this was going to be a long night involving the regular squeezing of fresh produce and ready grins to camera. The perfect setting for a new friendship, really.

Within moments of meeting, we fell quickly into a conversation that basically lasted all night. Once again, here was another human being I felt an instant connection with. We joked in Greek as we waited to be called to set like we’d shared a bedroom as sisters for years. We complained about the cold. The wee hours. We talked openly about our dreams, our loves. And I remember very clearly that, as we fell deeper into conversation about our Greekness, our art and our lives, I realised this chick was older than me – like a few hundred years at least. Her patience with life and the industry she’d embraced far outweighed my own. I’ve always loved that about her.

When Anne-Marie shares news on auditions that lead nowhere or roles she didn’t win, her eyes are still smiling. “It’s not time, yet.” She says, like she’s in direct contact with some kinda inner knowing we should all tap into when our goals seem a little too lofty.

“How do you know?” I ask her.

“I just do,” she replies. And I believe her.

I love it how kindred spirits find each other. It just took a little bit of faux stalking in a car park to bring Anne-Marie and I together.



The gentle art of legerdemain.

Phyllis Foundis with Magician Jack Daniels

When it comes to wonder and believing in a thousand things you can’t explain, there’s nothing quite like ‘up close magic.’ Which is why when the opportunity to meet and interview a real, live, honest-to-goodness, Illusionist, came up, I couldn’t let the opportunity disappear…

Yes. Perhaps I should warn you now.

I’m writing this blog after a full day of birthday celebrations. It’s nuts late so the temptation to pepper this blog with outrageous magic puns will be irresistible…

Now. Watch me pull a blog out of this sleepy state. (I told you.)

Jack Daniels arrived on-set looking like he already had magic in his DNA. We’re talking an unmistakable air of calm, a tailored jacket (secret pockets, optional) and a super neat goatee. Not that fastidious attention to facial fur should predicate an Illusionist’s ability to make stuff disappear or levitate. And there’s the obvious L word, right?

Well, Jack – in true illusionist style – surprised and defied expectations here because Legerdemain was his word. And he said it with such a delightful French twang too.

Now, I gotta tell ya. I’m no slouch in the vocab department. I’ve made my living out of knowing more than my fair share of unexpected adjectives, nouns and the like. But this word came out of thin air. It was my personal Abracadabra moment – like an Oprah a-ha moment, only with more consonants.

So what does it mean? Well, it refers to the ‘sleight of hand’ a magic man (or woman) has to be rather adept at if they’re going to convince an audience that those red balls really did just disappear before your very eyes…

Ah yes. Them red balls. They were round, foamy and squishy. Your average tricks of the trade. But those suckers, no matter how hard I squeezed them (Jack’s instructions, not my fetish), they still managed to miraculously multiply in my right hand.

But here’s the best part of my conversation with Jack. It wasn’t the balls, the card tricks or even the table that floated above the ground.

It was Jack’s magical attitude to the miracles that unfold in our world, every day, without question, to serve, delight and inspire us.

Basically, real magic. No legerdemain required.


Learn more about Jack Daniels over at Magic to Believe.

You can light up the world. All you need are the flaps to do it. 

What I love the most about my show is how boundaries and preconceptions are detonated with every conversation I have. The impossibly beautiful, Sarah Jane Kelly is a case in point. 

She glides onto the set in an emerald green and flowing chiffon situation, blinged-up footwear and a fiery red mane… 

Old Hollywood glamour, quiet and subdued elegance, right? Well, yes… but then she opens her mouth and the sass, the verve and the sheer unapologetic energy she has when she speaks her truth is, undeniable. 

I first met SJ when she was my eldest son’s drama teacher at Sydney’s NIDA many years ago. My boy may have had more than a little bit of a crush on her at the time (!). Sorry, Dean – it’s Mama’s job to embarrass you. 

Fast forward to a few years later, and I bumped into SJ again at a Sydney theatre. We talked about acting, the trials, the tribulations, the bar work between gigs. Sarah Jane didn’t have stars in her eyes, but there was definitely fire there. I wanted to yell, ‘Get thee to a casting director in L.A, you’re gorgeous, you’re talented, they’ll love you. Won’t they?’

Yes. I’m a romantic about most things, I get it. But Sarah Jane wasn’t buying into my Hollywood version of Hollywood.

Her approach, pragmatic. Her dreams, not spun from fairy floss.

#LisForLuminous is not about rags to riches, or talent-spotting across a crowded (insert improbable location here). It’s  a real story about life on the edges of fame and fans when all you really want to do is live your purpose and – act.

In her own words, 

“You know what? Stuff it, I am an actor. I’m here and the world better get used to it.” 

I’m tellin’ ya, the woman’s got flaps the size of Oz. 



Lightning fast blog. Didn’t give it much thought – just heart.

Divine intelligence has a lovely habit of putting the right people in your path at the right time. And this is how I met Cheryl Craig. Actually – it was less of a meeting and more of a discovery.

Picture this… it was three days before our next L shoot.

My crew was booked. Studio confirmed. Make up artist locked in. Hair and wardrobe organised. And when I say organised I mean, getting my anti-frizz shampoo ready and trawling through the sequinned section of my wardrobe (yes I have a section, no shame in my shine!).

But I digress.

So. I’m at my laptop. Last minute to-dos getting ticked off – when I can ignore the rabbit-hole of social media. And then I get an email from my one of my guest’s agents.

Sorry, but she has an acting gig out of town. Can’t make your show. Um. Now, what?

It’s ok. This is what guerrilla content producing is all about. The ‘glamour’ behind the scenes, relentless. Last minute hiccups, the norm. Within ten minutes I find our Cheryl on a talent website. She’s a gorgeous African American woman who just happens to sing with the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation choir. Jackpot. But will she say, yes? Just leap, Foundis. So I send her a message. One hour later we’re talking on the phone like we haven’t caught up in 100 years.

The episode you see with Cheryl is the first time we met in person. The chemistry was instant. The connection, natural. And there are so many platitudes I could write here about alignment and when a moment is destined blah, blah, blah… but I won’t because none of what I attempt to express will do my meeting with this gifted, heartful lady justice.

Suffice to say (who uses suffice anymore? Me – when I’m rushing to finish this blog for you!)…

All I will say is that, I’m so grateful Cheryl said yes when some random woman reached out to her out of the blue one day with the words…

“Will you tell your story on my show?”