The day we sat down with Catriona Gray, it started out as just a regular Monday. Many were still getting over the weekend while trying to finish their workload as early as possible.
Catriona brought a positive energy with her, which somehow lessened the dreariness of the day. For a moment, you’d forget that she’s Miss World Philippines 2016 and just talking to one of your girl friends. She even shared a few laughs with us as she narrated her commute from Parañaque to Makati, and vice versa as she’s moving houses. She also confidently sang a few lines for a “Complete the Lyrics” game.
Catriona was also honest about a lot of things, including the change she experienced after joining Miss World. “I could go to the mall and shop, and no one would know who I am,” she says. “Now, someone would recognize me and call me by my name.” We picked at her brain for a few minutes to know more from her motivation to join the pageant to why she prefers music over showbiz.
What have you been doing lately?
I’m actually moving houses. (Laughs) My parents still live with me and they’ve just relocated back to Australia. So I’m in the process of moving all my stuff in a condo. [It’s] adult life in full throttle. (Laughs) Other than that, I just have work—a few shoots, interviews, things like that.
You’ve been traveling a lot recently. Which is your favorite destination so far?
My [Miss World] competition was in Washington D.C. in December. After that, I went to Canada, New York, and Germany. I just fell in love with New York. I got to stay with my good friend Valerie Weigmann, who’s actually Miss World Philippines 2014, and she lives there at the moment. It was my first time in New York [and] I loved it. I just went around and ate and drank at all the coffee shops that I could go to. I went to all the sites like the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square.
It just felt really cool because it was like you’re in a movie. [There’s] such iconic landmarks and places, and when you find yourself in it…it’s just crazy! Though, a lot of the places I thought they looked smaller. On the screen they look so big, but when I was there in person, I said, “Oh, ‘yun lang pala.” (That’s all there is.) (Laughs)
I loved how the people came from everywhere in the world. It’s such a rich mix of cultures, nationalities, influences, and they all converge in one place. It’s really high energy and there are people from different backgrounds. So you can go out and meet different people every single day.
Where do you want to go next?
I want to go to Morocco, or a Euro trip! Like a road trip around Europe. When I went to Germany last January, I was there for two weeks and it was my first time in Europe. But, it was winter and we couldn’t really go around. Super cold, and the roads were iced over. So I’d love to go back during the summer and visit other European countries.
Why did you decide to join Miss World? Who encouraged you?
Actually, no one encouraged me [to join.] People have been nagging me to join a pageant, even my own mom. But I’m very stubborn, and I never listen to anyone when it comes to something like that because it is something that you need to put 150 percent of yourself into. You’re representing yourself, your time, and your effort. You’re speaking, and you’re [going to have] a public persona because of that.
It actually started because I was volunteering at the time. [Valerie introduced me to] Miss World, and I saw how she got mileage from her advocacy. I thought it would be nice if I could raise awareness for my own charity. It’s not about the glamor, and that’s what intrigued me most about Miss World.
There was a feeling that I had to keep the ball rolling for the Philippines because we were doing so well. But when it comes to pressure, [it mostly comes from myself.] I’m very analytical and I assess myself very deeply.
How do you keep your energy up?
Look after yourself—sleep whenever you can, have good food and enough water. I still try to fit in some exercise because otherwise, I become lethargic and slow.
What exercise are you into?
How do you like your coffee or tea?
I like both. For coffee, I really love lattes and mochas because I like sweets. For tea, anything, really. I’m such a tea drinker. I’m such a grandma inside. (Laughs)
What made you start volunteering for your charity?
I grew up in Australia and I never experienced poverty in person. I see it on the TV, newspaper, and online. I was just sitting at home and wanted to start volunteering because I felt like I needed to do something in my spare time. Then I came across my charity Young Focus, [which is] based in Tondo, Manila. When I walked into Tondo, I was shocked and it impacted me in such a way that I was not the same afterwards. Once you see how people live—their homes, water, and lack of such basic things—it’s like a slap in the face. Especially, at the time I was 21 and my worries were like career and my savings. Then when I went to Tondo, none of my worries were valid. I should just be happy with what I have because I have so much more than some people do.
What other charities would you like to help out with?
I’m not picky about charities. As long as I see that their implementations have been done well, that the donations are going to something long-term and really provides a solution. I’d be happy to help out whether it’s environment, education, giving living quarters, or health care.
Do you plan on entering showbiz after your reign as Miss World Philippines?
What I want to do more is music because I feel like I’m way too tall to be in showbiz. I’m 5’10” so good luck finding me a leading man! (Laughs) I love music kasi and I feel like I can fling myself into that. I can be better and be more creative in that rather than acting. I’d be happy to try [acting,] but I feel like I’d be more fulfilled as a musician.
Would you rather make your own album or songwrite for others?
I would love to songwrite for myself. All the artists I look up to are songwriters. I think there’s something so personal when you write your own songs, and conveying the feeling that inspired you to write that lyric.
Who’s your favorite artist at the moment?
I’m obsessed with Emeli Sandé. She came out with her second album and I’ve been listening to it in the car [when I commute] for the last week.
What’s your go-to look?
It’s actually changed a lot. I never wear makeup when I’m not working because I get very lazy. (Laughs) I’m very minimalistic. But now, I’m trying to reach a bare minimum of makeup for daily wear. So, mascara, a cream blush, a little bit of brow—I’m obsessed with soap brows at the moment—and lip balm.
What are your favorite fashion brands?
I don’t really have a particular brand [in mind] because sometimes it can get a little expensive. So I’m really trying to teach myself how to bargain shop at ukay-ukay. Even though I’m a beauty queen, I don’t think I should be wearing expensive stuff all the time. If you can style yourself well, you can make it look luxurious, expensive, and on-trend without breaking the bank. I would actually drop the money to pay for food rather than clothes. I’m so stingy! (Laughs) I’m also very picky, especially with shoes, so I have to really like something before walking out the store.
How often do you shop online?
I don’t online shop. Usually, I put stuff in a shopping cart but never check them out. Or, I’ll save them for later then totally forget about them. (Laughs)
Flats or heels?
Flats. I’m already tall enough to wear heels. (Laughs)
What’s a fashion or beauty trend you’d like to share next in your blog?
I’d love to do something Korean-inspired.
How are you adjusting with being a public figure now?
I’m still adjusting. Before, I’m pretty low-key [as a model] and people would only recognize me in pictures. I can go to the mall freely and no one would know who I am. But now, when people would call me by my name, I feel like I want to walk faster. (Laughs) But when they say hi and ask for a picture nicely, I say yes naman. Especially with the supportive fanbase I’ve built after joining Miss World.
What’s a misconception about you that you’d like to debunk?
People think that beauty queens are high-maintenance, but I don’t think so. At the end of the day, we’re all still human.