In 2016, in a quiet coliseum miles away from her phalanx of supporters, a 22-year-old Catriona Gray was asked by Miss World 2015 Mireia Lalaguna, “Which qualities do you think it will take to wear my crown?”
It was textbook pageant question–one that every aspirant could and should’ve rehearsed answering. Gray, standing in a regal pink embellished soft-tulle Francis Libiran gown, smiled and breathed in response, “I think, first of all, it takes bravery. to be a Ms world is to carry a burning torch. it is like action carried out by one to illuminate the lives of many. iw would dedicate my whole self, my love for the arts, and my voice to try to uplift, empower and educate people. and it will be my gretest honor and duty to hold this torch high enough so that all the world could feel and see its light.”
The whole of the MGM National Harbor in Maryland, USA was enveloped by absolute silence. When she smiled to signal the end of her final answer, a thunderous applause roared, seemingly announcing her the rightful heir to the coveted crown.
In a nail-biting announcement, a different candidate went home with the crown and the world of pageantry was one with the Filipino believers that asked why. A cursory search of Gray’s coronation night performance would lead you to a number of pages that ask the same question. In YouTube alone, three out of three reaction videos call Gray the most fitting title holder. One even said, “That is inspiring. That is an answer that deserves to be listened to.”
In the end, an emotional Gray stood graciously in front of the cheering crowd, grateful and fulfilled about her performance. And in fact, like a true woman of poise and grace, she never talked about the Miss World 2016 crown like it was something that was robbed from her. Instead, it was a challenge that made her strive and build herself even more, and her answer served as a binding agreement that hers would be a voice that would resonate change, inspiration, and awareness to the world.
Born Catriona Elisa Gray to an Australian father and Filipina mother, the 24-year-old model-turned-beauty queen has always had the proclivity for the arts, math and science and even sports. She earned her Master Certificate in Music Theory from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has dabbled into local musical productions, making full use of her gifted vocals.
A black belter and a jazz band lead singer in her younger years, Gray has since lived a well-rounded life and with her decision to live on her own while tracing her Filipino roots, she has since shown no signs of stopping.
Thrust in the world of fashion modeling at the age of 18, Gray has been hailed as one of the most promising faces in the industry. Not long after, she was transformed from a nameless mannequin to an influencer with a deadly combination of ethereal beauty and grace and angelic voice.
In January 2018, in an Instagram post, Gray shared an exciting news. Two years following her stint as Miss World title holder, Gray announced her intent to join the coming Bb. Pilipinas pageant, to the delight of her fans.She wrote, “Are you ready for it? Today marks the reveal of an evolution of self that has been quietly happening away from the public’s eye for a little while now. It was in no way planned, but sometimes the stars align to make things happen. Maraming Salamat sa inyong tiwala at sana samahan niyo ako sa aking bagong paglalakbay.”
This month, Gray is set to bridge the gap between the last time she stood proud onstage for Miss World to fulfill a dream to represent the country with Binibining Pilipinas. And now, more than ever, with a stronger sense of self and a solid gallery of adoring fans, the pantheon of the country’s strong beauty queens awaits.
CATRIONA GRAY IS DEFINITELY NEXT.
Produced and styled by Leo Balante
Photographed by Advan Ramirez at DHQ Productions
Hair and Makeup by Elle Lubigan