Spectacular and show-stopping—Catriona Gray became the enthralling queen we all admired and adored when she took the Miss Universe crown in 2018. From that blinding beam to that impressive “lava walk” and breath-taking twirl, which created a hullaballoo and earned tumultuous praises from the netizens and pageant aficionados, the title was definitely in the bag – three years after Pia Wurtzbach.
But did you know that prior to joining beauty pageants, Catriona has already been a queen-in-the-making growing up? Well, just in case you haven’t known much about her, here are some of the things you should know or probably you haven’t found out yet about her younger self:
She was born on January 6, 1994 to her Filipina mother Normita Ragas Magnayon, who hails from Oas, Albay, and to her Australian-Scottish father Ian Gray.
Since her name sounds truly unique, many of you perhaps are wondering where her parents got it. She revealed that it was derived from the Gaelic (an old Celtic language native to Scotland) translation of her pure Scotsmen grandmother Catherine Ross Gray.
“I only had the immense honor to meet only one of my grandparents in my lifetime. Sadly, the other three had passed before I was born. But the one grandparent I did meet – my grandmother – on my dad’s side has given me a gift that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” she shared in a Facebook post.
Being an only child, she pined to have at least a sibling because she found it lonely sometimes, especially growing up. But her dad objected the idea, since he already had two sons in his previous marriage and was already contented upon seeing her for the first time, although her mom wanted to always have a huge family.
Thus, in order to make her pre-occupied and to develop her skills, her parents didn’t only filled her with their unwavering love, but her mom nudged her to participate in various extra-curricular activities, such as ballet and Little Miss Philippines-Sydney 1999, where she reigned as the top winner.
Besides, she trained as well in the Korean martial arts Choi Kwang Do for four years – from age 8 to 12 – and received not only one, but two black belts! The one was to indicate her level of competency, while the other one was given by her Instructor Roy that says “Kung Fu Kitty”. She also developed an unbelievable talent in singing and painting that really wowed us.
The “Ugly Duckling” stage
In one of her Instagram posts, the Fil-Aussie stunner shared one of her grade school class pictures to show everyone that she also used to have an “ugly duckling stage” as an adolescent just like us, before possessing her flawless, smiting splendor she has right now. At 12 years old, she looks lanky in 5’8” height and skinny built, which makes her already as tall as their teachers.
“I was so awkward and uncoordinated as that time and to top it off I had a problematic teenage skin, a crazy colourful sense of fashion and braces!” she revealed.
Then she added, “Eventually, my skin cleared up and I got used to being a head taller than my classmates! But most importantly, I grew to love and accept myself for who I was. Sure I was awkward and not so good at sports, but I had other qualities that were unique and special – and I chose to focus on what I had, rather than I thought I lacked.”
Being a model and beauty queen
In her media interviews, Catriona always say that joining a beauty pageant is truly the furthest thing from her mind and the idea just never appealed to her.
“Because that’s all saw it as: a pageant – a show – a fleeting moment of spotlight. But then I realized just how much of a platform it gives [to] one’s talents, one’s personality, one’s passions, and most importantly one’s voice,” she stated.
But upon witnessing the impact her beauty queen best friend Miss World 2014 Valerie Weigmann can do for herself and the country, most especially to those who are in great need, she eventually came into the decision of trying her luck in a prestigious and immense beauty contest -- Miss World-Philippines.
“Beginning to volunteer at a charity and seeing how many people didn’t have a voice, who were in need of such basic resources that may took for granted, was really the catalyst that made me to see how much a wonderful gift being a titleholder could be. And as soon as I realized it – practically overnight – I decided I wanted to join Miss World. And the rest you could say is history,” she divulged.
After her reign as Miss World Philippines that led her to a Top 5 finish in the 2016 Miss World pageant in Maryland, USA, Catriona joined Binibining Pilipinas in 2018, on her way to her epic campaign that brought the Miss Universe crown back to the Philippines the second time in just three years.
After passing on the crown to the 2019 titlist Zozibini Tunzi last December, Catriona has since returned to the Philippines with her sights set on a possible music career. She is also currently working on her book, “Conquering Your Universe,” under ABS-CBN Books.