Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray, born on January 6, 1994, in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, has become a household name not only for her beauty but also for her passionate advocacy work. As a Filipina model, singer, beauty queen, and television personality, Gray has left an indelible mark on the world, particularly in her role as Miss Universe 2018. Beyond the glitz and glamour of the pageant world, Gray is known for her commitment to various noble causes, showcasing her dedication to making a positive impact on society.
Early Life and Education
Gray’s multicultural background reflects her Australian father of Scottish descent, Ian Gray, and her Filipino mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon. Raised in Cairns, she was a student at Trinity Anglican School, where she excelled as a house captain and a school chorister. Her diverse talents extended to music, leading her to pursue a graduate certificate in music theory from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Her commitment to holistic development is evident in her achievements, holding certificates in outdoor recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do martial arts. Gray’s journey also involved being a commercial model and showcasing her talents in local productions.
Gray’s foray into the world of pageantry began at the age of five when she won Little Miss Philippines in Sydney in 1999. Her dedication to beauty pageants reached new heights when she was crowned Miss World Philippines in 2016, followed by representing the Philippines at Miss World 2016. Her advocacy for charitable causes, including the Paraiso Bright Beginnings Project, demonstrated her commitment to uplifting and empowering communities.
In 2018, Gray made history by becoming the first Filipino to represent the country in both Miss World and Miss Universe competitions. At Binibining Pilipinas 2018, she was crowned Miss Universe Philippines, earning her the opportunity to compete on the global stage.
Miss Universe 2018 Triumph
Catriona Gray’s journey to becoming Miss Universe 2018 showcased not only her grace and beauty but also her dedication to advocacy. From her national costume, which highlighted indigenous Filipino tribes, to her response in the question and answer portion, Gray left a lasting impression. Her emphasis on the importance of child support and giving back to the community resonated with many.
Post-Miss Universe Activities
Beyond her reign as Miss Universe, Gray continued to make a positive impact on various fronts. She engaged in philanthropic endeavors, including becoming an ambassador for the Philippine Red Cross during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gray also took on the role of host and performer in the TV5 variety show “Sunday Noontime Live!”.
Advocacy and Issues
Gray’s advocacy extends beyond the world of beauty pageants. She has been a staunch supporter of women’s rights, indigenous culture conservation, and the “One Town, One Product” (OTOP) project by the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry. Despite facing pressure from certain quarters, Gray has remained steadfast in her commitment to championing social causes that uplift women’s lives.
Ambassador for the Arts and Indigenous Handicrafts
Recognizing her influence, the Philippines’ National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) designated Catriona Gray as its Ambassador for the Arts. This role, which she has continued into 2021, emphasizes her commitment to promoting various aspects of Filipino culture.
In addition, Gray was named an Ambassador for Indigenous Handicrafts by the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry in July 2020, further showcasing her dedication to preserving and promoting cultural heritage.
Parlade Red-Tagging Incident
Gray found herself embroiled in a red-tagging issue in October 2020 when military officials attempted to pressure her into limiting her interactions with certain women’s rights groups. In response, Gray remained resolute in her commitment to championing social causes and supporting fellow women.
Beyond her public persona, Gray’s personal life includes a relationship with Filipino-American actor Sam Milby, to whom she got engaged in February 2023. Her journey as a public figure and advocate reflects a harmonious blend of personal and professional accomplishments.
Catriona Gray’s journey from a young girl winning Little Miss Philippines to becoming Miss Universe 2018 is a testament to her resilience, talent, and commitment to making a positive impact. As an ambassador for various causes and a beacon of inspiration, Gray continues to influence positive change in the world, proving that true beauty goes beyond external appearances.