After exiting Mediacorp, Evelyn Tan saw raising her 4 children as her new full-time career


On the evening of Nov. 5, I waited for a call from former Mediacorp actress and host, Evelyn Tan.


And when I finally did hear her say a friendly “hello”, she sounded just like how I remembered her from when she acted and hosted shows on television — chirpy and bubbly.

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Tan

Even then, I couldn’t tell that the mother of four was actually at a clinic with her family because she had been having a pesky cough and (much to her surprise) a fever.

And the 43-year-old is looking forward to recovering as fast as she can because she will be performing on TV this weekend.

But more on that later.

Inspired by Zoe Tay

Upon graduating from the National University of Singapore with a degree in mathematics, Tan joined the fifth edition of Mediacorp’s Star Search in 1997.

Joining the talent competition was a no-brainer for her since she has been actively involved in Chinese speech and drama — something she truly enjoyed since she was in secondary school.

“It was something I’ve always wanted to do since I saw Zoe Tay walk away with the trophy at the very first Star Search!”

Unfortunately for her, she didn’t get to experience holding the trophy herself as she only made it to the top 20.

Almost became a teacher

Tan was ready to pursue her other childhood ambition of becoming a teacher after her short-lived stint at the talent competition.

But Lady Luck was on her side, and Tan was offered a contract by Mediacorp (then called TCS, or Television Corporation of Singapore).

As she thought that other colleagues would get the contract, the news came as a pleasant surprise: “When they approached me, I was very surprised but of course, delighted. So I thought, ‘Ok, here goes nothing.'”


Once again, fate had a funny way of making both her ambitions come true.

“The surprising thing is that my first role as a drama artiste was a teacher!”

Tan plays the role of a teacher in her first Chinese drama “A Place to Call Home”. Screenshot from Toggle.
Becoming a MediaWorks artiste

After several years as an actor, Tan felt that she needed to diversify her skills and wanted to try her hand on hosting variety shows.

And the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time when the now-defunct television broadcaster MediaWorks offered her a contract in 2000.

“Someone (from MediaWorks) approached me and he is known to have a way of grooming artistes to become variety hosts. I thought I needed that break and needed to do something new.”

While Tan managed to hone her skills, her time at MediaWorks didn’t last very long.

In Sep. 2004, MediaWorks and Mediacorp merged their operations to “stem losses and enhance shareholder value”.

The merger also meant that some people lost their jobs and this included Tan, as she wasn’t offered a contract following the merger.

New full-time “job”

But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining: She and her husband, fellow actor Darren Lim, found out that they were expecting their first child.

“It was timely because I was pregnant with my first child. We were married in March 2004 and the following year when the company merged, my baby arrived.”

Nowadays, she takes up small scale gigs from time to time, but family still remains her top priority.

Before breaking out in a burst of laughter, she joked: “I didn’t have a job then, so I thought this (raising her firstborn) was going to be my new job. Now we have four children, so this is my full-time career now!”

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Tan
Living in a yacht

Tan and her husband are not your typical Singaporean parents.

While most Singaporeans live in flats (or on land, generally), the family of six lived on the waters for four years. from 2013.

To fulfil Lim’s childhood dream of sailing and Tan’s desire to travel the world, the family lived in a three-room yacht that was usually docked at the ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove Marina.

The yacht wasn’t just their home, it was their mode of transportation too.

In 2016, the family went on a six-month-long sailing expedition to Phuket and Koh Samui.

Living and travelling in a yacht has also taught the kids some valuable lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom or on land, for that matter.

“It was a lifestyle that was very different than what we were used to. Previously, we had helpers but within the small confines of a boat, we really couldn’t afford an extra person on deck. So the kids were learning how to cook and do the laundry. It was a good experience for them.”

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Tan

Their stint at sea has also impressively resulted in the youngest child to build his survival instincts when he was just three years old.

“My youngest one was dumped into the water when he was just a couple of months old (under close guidance). And I guess because he grew up surrounded by the sea, he taught himself to swim when he was three years old. The other kids, we had to send them to swimming lessons!”

Not everything was smooth sailing, though.

Facing a storm

Tan recounted a time where they had to face several storms at sea for an entire 24 hours.

In an article she wrote in 2017, the family boat apparently rocked to and fro, up and down on five metre-high waves.

The waters were so choppy, they couldn’t cook their meals and everyone had to make do with cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Even after going through a terrifying and life-threatening experience, she still manages to see the (metaphorical) rainbow after the storm.

“We were totally humbled because no matter how small you are, you will face a situation where it’s beyond your control and all you can do is to hang in there and pray for the best. It was a good experience, now we can say that we’ve faced a storm in life and we survived!”

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