Fresh-faced at 40, she looks every bit the nation's sweetheart that she was in the 1990s.
Schoolchildren wrote her fan mail wanting to be her friend as they could relate to her friendly teacher roles on television.
"I wasn't extra talented and I wouldn't say I'm a person of great beauty.
"At that point of time, they needed a girl-next-door who was approachable," says Tan, who was dubbed Channel 8's Wu Jie, or "fifth sister" in Mandarin, ranking behind Zoe Tay, Fann Wong, Ann Kok and Phyllis Quek.
The TV darling made the "career switch" to full-time mother on the first day of 2005 when she welcomed eldest daughter Kristen with her actor-husband Darren Lim, 42.
She was then a celebrity newscaster at now-defunct TV station MediaWorks, but was not offered a new contract after the media merger in 2004.
Now 10, Kristen has three younger brothers - Jairus, eight, Way, five, and Elliott, one.
The family of six live in a $700,000 yacht docked at the ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove Marina.
Tan has gone from reel to real teacher, homeschooling her children.
She is in charge of academics, while her husband is in charge of outdoor activities.
The world is their classroom. Next year, the adventurous brood plan to set sail to the Japanese island of Okinawa.
They will make stops en route, such as in Taiwan, so as to immerse the children in a Mandarin-speaking environment.
Tan, who takes on event and programme hosting jobs occasionally, says: "I have my hair-pulling moments when my kids don't listen. But being a mother is so much more fulfilling and satisfying."
This article was first published on August 2, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.