Most typical Singaporean parents would not be particularly fond of the idea of their child pursuing a career in the notoriously volatile world of showbiz, much less if they were to eschew a university education to do so (oh, the horror).
Evelyn Tan is definitely not a typical Singaporean parent, and it’s not just because she and her brood (actor hubby Darren Lim and their four kids) famously used to live on a boat.
When we caught up with the former actress at last week’s press conference for the upcoming President’s Star Charity show (PSC), she revealed that her two older children, 14-year-old Kristen and 12-year-old Jairus, both have their sights set on entertainment-related careers, and she is completely supportive of their dreams - even if it means they wish to go without paper qualifications.
Frankly, we were surprised to hear her say that too (guess we’re erroneously too subscribed to the stereotype of an Asian mum harping on about becoming a doctor or lawyer), but Evelyn has a very progressive and holistic outlook on the issue.
“We are in an era where things are going to be very, very different,” she mused. “Even with a degree, you may not be able to get the job you want, so I’d rather let them be guided by their passions and be developed as a whole person with an attitude of learning.”
It probably helps that the 43-year-old, who traded stardom for stay-at-home-mum duties in 2005, has fond memories of her time in the spotlight. “[Acting] was a very exciting period of my life and I enjoyed myself tremendously, so when my daughter says she wants to go into this line as well, I tell her I’m all for it! You get to see and do a lot of things that are beyond what you’d normally get in a nine-to-five job, and I think she would enjoy that as well.”
Unlike mummy and daddy, however, Kristen wants to become a singer, and has already been taking vocal lessons to sharpen her skills. According to Evelyn, the teenager was also offered to host a kids’ programme by a local production house, but she couldn’t take it up because of other commitments.
Jairus, on the other hand, already has his life planned out as a streamer for Twitch, a popular online streaming platform. “Dinosaur me was like, what is that? Why do you want to twitch?” she chuckled, literally twitching her body to demonstrate her original understanding of the name (we wish we shot a Boomerang of it). “He said, ‘If I start now, I’ll probably have a following by the time I’m 21, and that could translate into some form of income, so I don’t really need to get my degree.’ I said, okay, don’t worry, that’s fine.”
“He’s a thinker, my second one,” the proud mum gushed when we expressed our amazement at such foresight for his age. “When he was four, he told me, ‘Ma, do you know why people have to get married? Because the world has to go on.’ (Laughs)”
But what about Evelyn herself? Does she feel an urge to be in front of the camera once more? “The [acting] bug does bite again and again, but I just have to push it away,” she admitted with a wistful sigh. Guess home-schooling duties still come first.
That said, she will get a chance to relive a slice of the old days when she takes to the stage at the President’s Star Charity 2019 on November 10 to sing a cover of ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’ with Kym Ng - two decades after they first performed the iconic Teresa Teng ballad with PSC founder and late former President Ong Teng Cheong, who accompanied them on the piano.
Watching the nostalgia-inducing clip at the press conference certainly brought back a flood of memories for Evelyn, who was “in a different phase of [her] life” back then: single, available, and still a full-time artiste (and we must say: questionable 90s fashion aside, both she and Kym aged really well).
This time, the duo will be joined by Mediacorp’s Young Talent Project 2019 champs Adrian Tang, Michelle Zhu, and Toby Tan on various musical instruments as they pay tribute to the man who started it all. “The President’s Star Charity has come a long way and I’m very proud to be given this opportunity to do my part for the community,” said Evelyn.
Other performances at this year’s PSC include a comedy skit on mental health starring starring Chua Enlai, Suhaimi Yusof, Richard Low, Udaya, and Lim Xixi; a dance-off between Japan’s Fabulous Sisters and Singapore’s TTYL (consisting of Tay Ying, Denise Camillia Tan, Kayly Loh, and Hazelle Teo); a cover of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s ‘Shallow’ by Hong Kong’s Tien Chong and local singer Shak, and many more.
The President’s Star Charity 2019 will air live on November 10 at 7.30pm on Channel 5 and Toggle, with a repeat telecast on November 17 at 4.30pm.
To donate, visit this website or call the following numbers:
1900-112-8821 (for a $10 donation)
1900-112-8822 (for a $50 donation)
1900-112-8823 (for a $100 donation)
For more information, visit the official President’s Challenge website.