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Liv Phyland – Standing out from the Crowd

By Dan Hutton on July 29, 2016 in People

Photo: Jeremy Greive

Photo: Jeremy Greive

Where are you originally from?
‘Where I’m from’ is always the hardest question, as I was an absolute gypsy growing up. I lived in Wagga, Holbrook, Bacchus Marsh, Melbourne for high school and a year of uni, Bendigo for two years of uni, back to Melbourne for four years, and I have now been in Sydney for a year. That said, I would call Wagga ‘home’ as that’s where all my family is from and where I still spend every Christmas.

Where are you living now?
I’ve been in South Bondi since August last year. I’m in Lamrock Avenue – come and find me.

What brought you to Bondi?
I always wanted to move to Sydney; I was just waiting for some work to come up here. Then I got the job with The Loop on Channel 11.

What do you love about life in the Eastern Suburbs?
I’m so obsessed with Bondi, to the point I get teased about it. I’m proud to be in love with the ‘bubble’ life. My favourite thing would be living across the road from the beach and being able to start or finish my day with a swim or surf. Salt water literally cures everything!

How long have you been surfing for?
Quite a few years, but I’m an absolute rookie and I look like a frog when I surf, but I love it.

What gets your goat about the Eastern Suburbs?
Look, to be honest there are a few places that I feel are a bit pretentious, but it can also be the polar opposite of that. Bondi is such a ‘community’. There’s a real mix of hippies, surfers, backpackers, families, and down to earth, fun humans that all seem to have each other’s back. But, of course, there are also a few…

Wankers, a bit of fakeness, and a few crazies. Shout out to all you crazies out there. The crazy-hot scale be strong. Oh, and I hate not being able to find a car park.

You don’t have a garage?
No, not yet anyway. Get back to me in a few years.

Do you have any favourite local haunts?
I’m a massive foodie. I always go to the same places, though, like Cali Press, Sadhana Kitchen, Lox, Stock and Barrel. If you’re talking about bars, I’m not very cool, honestly. I do like the Bucket List in summer and the Beach Road for some R&B. I’m a walking hazard on the dance floor, though. Seriously, I need to stop thinking I’m Beyonce.

What were your favourite subjects in school? How did you get into television hosting?
I loved maths, psychology, PE and drama. All through school I loved singing, dancing and acting, and I thought I wanted to be an actress. From about year nine I realised I wanted to be a presenter. I loved that it was still ‘entertainment’, but you could have your own personality. I loved the idea of making someone excited and making them believe in what you were saying by purely being yourself.
I got to year 12 and I realised that there was no course that was really going to guarantee me a job as a television presenter. I also recognised that it is a brutal industry, which can be hard to crack. So I decided to do something else I loved as a backup, and work at presenting on the side. I did a double degree in psychology and occupational therapy. It was the best time of my life and I’m so grateful that I did it.

Was it the best time of your life because of the course, or because of university life?
Because of the people. They were the biggest free-spirited bunch of legends from all country towns around Australia, who will be lifelong friends. And yes, let’s be honest, I probably enjoyed the people and ‘uni life’ more than the course.

Did you finish it?
I did. At the end of my third year someone sent me an application of a nationwide search for two new ABC3 hosts for a show called Studio3. I’d always wanted to do children’s television. I’d seen that 6,000 people had applied the last time this position had been offered. I made a ridiculous audition tape (dressed as a giant M&M grocery shopping, and as one of the Bananas in Pyjamas rapping in the streets, etc.). I sent it in and somehow got an audition. For some reason they liked something they saw in me and I got a final call back.
I went to the next audition dressed as a sheep. I don’t know why, but I got the job. I literally told them on the phone, “You do realise I have no idea what I’m doing? This is your last chance to take back your offer. I wont be offended.” I think it was because I was so inexperienced they thought they could mould me into what they wanted.
I graduated, moved back to Melbourne and literally learned everything from scratch – on the job, five days a week, filming from 7am until 5pm.

What was it like working on a show with such a young target audience?
It was brilliant. Our target audience was six to 16 year-olds, so it wasn’t babyish at all. It was conversational, fun and down right nuts – think weird and whacky and then times it by 50. The hardest and the best part about it was that you had to be extremely energetic and over-the-top, but also 100 per cent yourself, because people that age can see straight through you.

What are the most important skills you learnt while working on Studio 3?
When I started I was trying to remember the script word for word; you’re afraid to be completely yourself in case people don’t like that. After a while you build confidence, start committing 100 per cent to everything and put your own spin on things. By the end we would glance at a script and then just ad-lib; it’s much more real – and ridiculous – to watch.

What were your favourite television shows when you were a kid?
I loved Hi-5 as a grom, then Home and Away, Neighbours and McCleod’s Daughters. I started on soaps young!

Do you ever get grief from your mates about your onscreen performances?
They loved it when I was on a children’s show. They would tune in and be like, “What the hell are you doing?” or “What the hell are you wearing?”

You got the gig on Channel 11’s The Loop last year, taking over from former The Beast cover girl Ash London; how was the transition from children’s television to young adults’ television?
Yes, big shout out to Ash – what a legend. The transition was definitely daunting as I was so comfortable in my job and I absolutely adored ABC3; the team was honestly like my family. So settling into a new city, in a new job, with new people made it even harder. So much new!
I had stepped out of my comfort zone and also, at the start, I was scared of looking like I had come from a children’s show, so I began to dull my personality to the point where I didn’t recognise myself onscreen. I wasn’t being as bubbly or natural. A month or so later I decided to just be myself and have fun. It’s all been up hill from there. I’m loving The Loop and the Channel Ten team is amazing.

Can you tell a little bit about The Loop?
The Loop is basically a modern version of Video Hits. I co-host with a guy called Scott Tweedie, who lives in Rose Bay (la-di-da Tweeds). It’s on every Saturday morning for two and a half hours. We play the charting Top 20, throw in some old school bangers that everyone loves, and then play about four or five newbies we think will do well. Apart from that, it’s just our ugly heads on screen every now and then to tell you some fun facts and news about the artists and songs.

Being on a music show, do you feel like you have to be cool and hip?
I think I was trying to be cool, then everyone cottoned on to the small issue that I am the least cool person in the world. Seriously, I am. I’m never going to be a cool, edgy music presenter. I’m goofy, I’m clumsy and I laugh at myself. In most of the episodes I’m crying with laughter and can’t breathe, and Scott just holds the show together like a true professional. My life is one big blooper.

Your co-host was also a presenter on ABC3 before moving to The Loop; were you guys mates back in the ABC3 days?
Yeah, Scott and I have known each other for five years now. He was on a show called Prank Patrol, so he would come to Melbourne to film stuff. We got along really well. He started at ABC3 four years before me, then at The Loop four years before me. He thinks I’m following him. Wherever he goes next, I’ll probably try and get on the show a few years later. This is now sounding creepy. I apologise.

Speaking of pranks, I believe you and Mr Tweedie have been in a bit of a prank war; is it true that he tricked you into believing that you were going on the cover of The Beast back in April, but it was all an elaborate set-up?

And we here at The Beast didn’t even know anything about it…
It was horrible.

How did it go down?
Obviously I knew of The Beast (being the prestigious magazine that it is) but I’m still quite new to Eastern Suburbs. Scott had been the host of Prank Patrol – in other words he is the king of pranking. I’d pranked him in one episode and I knew he wanted revenge. As soon as we finished recording, I got a text message from my agent saying, “Can you do a last minute shoot for The Beast?” I took a screenshot and messaged it to Scott saying, “You are behind this for sure. This has to be a prank.” He said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but great.”
I did a 45-minute interview with fake Dan Hutton, who was actually just an actor. Then I rocked up to Ben Buckler one afternoon and did a fake photo shoot with weird props like kale and strange dress-ups. I knew by this point it was a prank, but I was very much trapped in it. After an hour of hell, Scott jumped out of a car with a blonde wig on and unveiled the prank. Props to the ridiculous amount of effort he went to, but I also didn’t talk to him for two days and I’ve been paranoid ever since.

You have a bit of a musical background yourself; is that right?
Yes. I’ve always sung, but never done lessons. It’s just a hobby. I was in a band called Jeanie when I was in Melbourne, with one of the sound guys from ABC3. He had some songs that he’d written that he needed a girl’s voice for, so we started jamming. It was like a folk pop duo. We got signed by Universal Music and ABC Music, then got a full band. I ended up moving to Sydney, which made it hard to rehearse (different states will do that to you), so that kind of ran its course. Now I’m singing with a guitarist in Sydney, just doing acoustic covers and casually gigging around.

What’s the name of the new band?
Oh, it’s great! My name’s Olivia and his name is Juan, so we’re called Olivia Newton Juan. Can we take a moment for that?

That’s not bad, actually…
We play at Ravesi’s on Thursday nights sometimes. It’s fun to get all of our friends down there, and it’s literally 300 metres from my house. Come down and have a jig, yodel, whatever floats your boat.

What music are you into, and does the music on The Loop reflect your personal taste?
100 per cent. That’s why it’s such a great fit. I think a lot of people secretly love what’s charting because you can sing along to it and it’s so ridiculously catchy; most people are just too embarrassed to admit it. I’m not cool enough to listen to Triple J. My taste in music is quite bipolar. I sing and love acoustic folk music, I like commercial Top 40 pop, and I absolutely love R&B and hip-hop. Shawty get low!

Who is your favourite musician or band at the moment?
My favourite bands of all time are the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons (it’s safe to say I get teased a bit for that at The Loop). I also love the queens of pop, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. They’re the most clichéd pop people, but they’re pretty phenomenal.

What are your top tips for breaking the ice at the beginning of an interview?
I have no icebreakers – as you will have noticed. I just have word vomit – no filter, no boundaries.

Apparently you have some awesome clothes on the show; who are your go-to designers?
To be honest, I’m not much of a fashionista. I’m a bit of a hippie. My ideal attire is usually bare feet, bathers, or active wear. Comfort over style.
For the show, Channel Ten dresses us, which is brilliant. They’ll source different options from PR companies or select brands. I’ll go in the morning of the shoot and try on as many things on as possible, and then go from there.

Do you have a favourite interview that you’ve done?
Yes. Jason Derulo. When I came for my interview for The Loop they said, “Who do you love, music-wise?” I said, “I’m really embarrassed to admit this, but Jason Derulo.” They said, “You’re not going to believe this, but your first interview is actually going to be Jason Derulo.” He rocked up an hour late because he was riding to the Channel 10 studio through the city on a Segway, and he literally came up to level five still on his Segway. I then tried to play him one of his songs on the recorder. I sounded like screaming cats. I’m sure he felt us bonding.

What advice would you give to aspiring television presenters?
Just keep at it, because, obviously, it is a brutal industry and you can get knocked down a million different times. But you’ve got to be in it to win it. I applied for a job that 6,000 people had applied for the previous time, and I’d never been in front of the camera. What are the chances?
Experience is also key. Do short courses, volunteer to assist in shoots, just find any avenue to learn the ropes, meet the right people and get your foot in the door.
My final advice: be authentic. People want realness, and someone who stands out from the crowd.

Do you have any role models in the industry?
My presenting idol is Shelley Craft. She’s bright and bubbly, and I suppose that’s who I would try to model myself off. I like watching people who make you smile. I would love for people to look at me and think, “She looks like a nice, down to earth person; Let’s be friends!”

Do you support any charities?
I’m an ambassador for the Starlight Foundation, which has been great. I’ve always wanted to get involved with them. I go a couple times a month on a Monday night and just hang out with the kids. There are a lot of events and things that we do as well, but it’s more about just chilling with kids, chatting to them, doing some art or music, and trying to brighten their day a little bit.

Are you involved in any other charities?
I’m very passionate about mental health, and OneWave is a great organization, and also one that was born in Bondi. I’ve known so many people, family and friends, who have been affected by mental health issues in some way. The guys at OneWave raise awareness that it’s okay to not be okay by dressing up in fluoro, having a group talk about mental health and going surfing. Who doesn’t want to meet up at the beach in crazy, ridiculous clothes, get amongst the good vibes and catch party waves? It’s such a great way to start your day.

Can you tell us a bit about your teen health passion project?
I’m very grateful to I live a very balanced life. I’ll be out dancing at the Beach Road until 4am, and the next morning I’ll have a green smoothie and go to a yoga class. I don’t deprive myself of anything, and I’m proud to say I’ve never been on a diet. I think that has made me passionate to spread the message about balance and living life to the fullest, in a healthy way.
A couple of years ago I studied a course called ‘Integrative Nutrition’ online. I absolutely love it, but didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. I had all these teenage girls writing to me on social media with common themes of anxiety, depression and body image. I had this light bulb moment of, ”Oh my god, this is my demographic; this is who is most at risk of our society changing, and it’s what I’m most passionate about.”
What I’m working on at the moment is doing workshops for teenage girls on health, wellbeing, and mental health. I want to do private workshops, and also implement them into girls’ schools. They’ll be interactive, engaging and eye opening. The workshops will be filled with breaking down barriers of mental health, cooking demonstrations, yoga and exercise, powerful guest speakers, and demonstrations on things like how Photoshop works and the pros and cons of social media, just to name a few. I want to try to teach these girls how to have a balanced life, how to be healthy, but most importantly, how to be happy.
If being on television has created a profile where young girls will be interested in what I have to say, then that is the greatest outcome of my career.
So that’s what I’m working on at the moment and that’s what I’m trying to get up and running.

In an ideal world, what does the future hold for Olivia Phyland?
Ideally I’ll still be on television and still be going on van adventures on the weekends. That would be a happy outcome. My goal is to have a career that combines my passions for both presenting and health. A show that involves lifestyle, travel and adventure has always been a dream. And, of course, I want to have these workshops for teenagers not only up and running, but changing the lives of young girls. Oh, and where will I be living? Well now that I’ve had a taste for it, I could never, ever not live by the beach.