Catriona Gray Story
It is ‘the’ dream of most of the girls in the world to be crowned Miss Universe. Only a few have been destined to wear the prestigious crown in their lifetime. This year, Miss Philippines Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe 2018 among 93 beauty queens across the world.
Catriona Gray, the Filipina model, TV host, stage actress and singer, who was dressed in a sparkling Crimson gown, paid her tribute to the Mayon Volcano of Philippines, after winning the title. She revealed, “When I was 13, my mum told me, 'Honey, I dreamed of you winning Miss Universe in a red dress.' At that time, I thought nothing of it and today, my mother's dream came true.
The Philippines, what an amazing honor it has been to carry your name across my chest and to embody you in all aspects. I may now carry the sash of Miss Universe, but I'll forever be your Miss Philippines.” The 24-year-young beauty is the fourth Miss Philippines to win the Miss Universe Crown in the history of the pageant.
The Journey of Success:
Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray was born on the 6th of January 1994 in Cairns, Australia. Father Ian Gray is a Scottish-born Australian. Mother Normita Ragas Magnayon is from Oas, Albay, Philippines. She holds dual citizenship. It is interesting to note that Little Catriona had won the ‘Little Miss Philippines 1999’ title at the age of five.
Catriona studied at Trinity Anglican School in Cairns. She moved to the United States to pursue music at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. Catriona earned her Certificate in Music Theory. Later, she even got a Certificate in Outdoor Recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do martial arts.
Catriona is multi-talented and a go-getter by nature. She loves jazz and was the lead singer her school’s jazz band. After graduating from High School, Catriona moved to Philippines’ Capital city Manila to become a model.
Catriona Gray works with the education-based NGO Young Focus Philippines in Tondo, Manila. The NGO provides free education and school sponsorships for children in the poorest neighborhoods within Philippines’ Capital city. Having lost one of her close friends to HIV, she became an active member to advocate for HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
She supports ‘Love Yourself Philippines’ organization. The organization offers free testing, education, and treatment to those living with HIV/AIDS. The epidemic in her mother’s country needs more awareness among the younger generation. Her win will help her to spread effective awareness and garner plenty of support from the world. Catriona Gray is planning to do more for the Filipinos.
In the year 2016, Catriona Gray had won the Miss World Philippines 2016 title in Manila. She was adjudged ‘Best in Swimsuit’, ‘Best in Evening Gown’, ‘Best in Fashion Runway’ and ‘Best in Talent’ rounds. She also went onto win multiple Corporate endorsed awards, prominent among them were ‘Miss FIG Image Gateway’, ‘Miss Folded and Hung’, ‘Miss Hannah Beach Resort’, ‘Miss Figlia’, ‘ Miss Manila Hotel’ and ‘Miss Organique’ awards.
Having won the National competition, Catriona Gray entered the Miss World 2016 pageant. Even though she did not win the title, as Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray was adjudged 2nd in the ‘Talent Award’, one among the Top 5 to win the ‘Beauty with a Purpose Project’ Award and winner of the ‘Multimedia Award’. At the MGM National Harbour, Maryland, United States. Catriona Gray was placed as the 3rd runners-up.
The loss did dampen her spirit a little. However, determined and destined for a bigger platform for a win, Catriona entered the Miss Universe 2018 pageant with more confidence. She created a sensation during the preliminary rounds with her super stylish ‘Lava Walk’. The leaked footage became viral and caught Tyra Banks and Ashley Graham’s attention.
The Miss Universe 2018 pageant was held at the magnificent Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. Grammy Award winner RnB artist Ne-Yo enthralled the packed arena. The pageant made history for allowing the first-ever transgender contestant Angela Ponce, Miss Spain. Miss Panama Rosa Montezuma became the first-ever Miss Panama as its first indigenous Miss Universe contestant and enter into history books of Miss Universe pageant.
Colombian-American CEO Liliana Gil Valletta, fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, former Miss Universe winners Michelle McLean and Bui Simon, Iman Oubou, Janaye Ingram and Richelle Singson-Michael constituted the all-female panel of judges to pick the winner. The theme of the 67th Miss Universe 2018 pageant was ‘Empowered Women’. The glittering event was held on the 17th of December 2018.
In the first ‘Question & Answer’ round, Catriona Gray was asked by one of the hosts, “Canada recently joined Uruguay as the second nation in the world to make marijuana legal. What is your opinion on the regularization of marijuana?” Gray answered, “I am for marijuana being used for medical use, but not for recreational use. Because I think people will argue about alcohol and cigarettes then. Everything is good, but in moderation.”
Catriona Gray also entered the history books as Miss Philippins, even before the competition commenced. Carlene Aguilar, the Miss Philippines of 2005 was the first Filipino to represent the Islands’ Nation in Miss World and Miss Universe pageants. Catriona Gray became the second Filipino after Carlene Aguilar in Philippines beauty pageant history.
As the competition was entering the final round, the ‘Top 5’ contestants – Miss Philippines Catriona Gray, Miss Puerto Rica Kiara Ortega, Miss South Africa Tamaryn Green, Miss Vietname H’Hen Nie and Miss Venezuela Sthefany Gutierrez made as the top finalists.
Miss South Africa, Miss Philippines, and Miss Venezuela made it to the final ‘Question & Answer’ round of the competition. The pulsating moment was tense for Tamaryn Green, Catriona Gray, and Sthefany Gutierrez. The final question for the three contestants was – ‘What is the most important lesson you have learned and how will you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?’
Catriona Gray edged the other two with her response. She responded, “I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is poor and very sad. And I have always taught myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful. And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess, where I could give something, where I could provide something like a spokesperson. And these, I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world, where negativity could not grow and foster and children will have a smile on their faces.”
Her response won the hearts of the judges, who must have realized that Catriona has the first-hand experience of poverty in her mother’s country. Miss Philippines Catriona Gray was declared Miss Universe 2018 amidst standing ovation by the crowd. The two-day event was a tough contest among 94 contestants, who arrived at the stage from all across the globe.
Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, the Miss Universe of 2017 crowned Miss Philippines Catriona Gray as Miss Universe 2018. Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973 and Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 were the earlier Miss Philippines, who went onto win the Miss Universe crown. Catriona Gray became the fourth Filipina to win the prestigious title.
Looking resplendent in her sparkling red dress, the crowd celebrated the win of Miss Philippines. The designing of her dress was inspired by Philippines’ Mayon Volcano. After winning the crown, mother and daughter hugged an emotional joy. Catriona revealed, “When I was 13, my mom said she had a dream that I would win Miss Universe in a red dress.” It was dream come true for both – the mother and the daughter.
Celebrations broke in Oas town in the northeastern province of Albay in the Philippines. Catriona’s mother hails from the town. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated Gray on her big success.
“Miss Gray truly made the entire Philippines proud, when she sashayed on the global stage and showcased the genuine qualities defining a Filipina beauty, confidence, grace, intelligence and strength in the face of tough challenges. In her success, Miss Philippines had shown to the world that women in our country have the ability to turn dreams into reality through passion, diligence, determination and hard work.”