Childhood & Early Life
Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray was born on January 6, 1994, in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, to a Scottish father, Ian Gray, and a Filipina mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon. Her name is a combination of the names of her paternal grandmother, Catherine Ross (who had immigrated to Western Australia from Scotland in 1952), and her maternal grandmother, Elsa Magnayon Ragas (who lived in the Philippines).
Gray spent her formative years in Australia, where she attended the 'Trinity Anglican School' in Cairns. She was a house captain and a school chorister.
Gray was the lead singer of a jazz band in her high school and had also starred in a local stage production of 'Miss Saigon.'
After Gray graduated high school, her family moved from Cairns to the Philippines. She then started working as a commercial model in Manila.
She holds a master's certificate in music theory from the 'Berklee College of Music' of Boston, Massachusetts. Gray also holds a certificate in outdoor recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do (martial arts). She was trained in martial arts from the age of 8 to 12.
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Gray was crowned 'Little Miss Philippines' in Sydney in 1999, when she was 5. She began her modeling career after graduating high school. Gray was part of a few small-scale modeling assignments in Australia. She was 18 when she moved to the Philippines, using her savings.
In the Philippines, she landed offers for TV projects, commercials, and runway modeling. After a few years, Gray became a prominent face in the advertisement industry. Her most notable ad campaign was for 'Pantene #WhipIt,' which was praised for its social message against gender stereotypes.
Subsequently, Gray displayed her signature walk, popularly known as the "lava walk," for the 'Pantene Labels Against Women’ TV commercial. She also provided the vocals for the background music of the commercial.
Gray also worked as a runway and fashion model and walked at several fashion events and other related shows. Unfortunately, the modeling offers started to dry up later. Gray then turned toward charity work.
She began working with a few non-profit organizations in Tondo, Manila. Her friend and fellow beauty queen, 'Miss World Philippines 2014,’ Valerie Weigmann, suggested that she participate in beauty pageants to support her charitable pursuits.
She followed the suggestion and ended up winning the 'Miss World Philippines' pageant on October 2, 2016. She also won a set of other titles in the competition, such as ''Best in Swimsuit,'' ''Best in Evening Gown,'' ''Best in Fashion Runway,'' and ''Best in Talent.''
Gray also won several corporate endorsement awards, such as 'Miss FIG Image Gateway,' 'Miss Folded and Hung,' 'Miss Hannah Beach Resort,' 'Miss Figlia,' 'Miss Manila Hotel,' and 'Miss Organique.'
She then competed at 'Miss World 2016’ in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S., and finished among the top five contestants. Additionally, she won a string of sub-category awards, such as the 'Multimedia Award' and the 'Talent Award' (second place), and was placed among the top five in the 'Beauty with a Purpose' project.
In January 2018, Gray's participation in the 2018 'Binibining Pilipinas' national pageant was officially confirmed. The costume round in the competition required her to wear a princess’s attire native to the Mindanao region. She bagged the award in the category.
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'Miss Universe Philippines 2017,’ Rachel Peters, passed the crown on to Gray on March 18, 2018. Gray bagged several sub-category awards in the pageant (in addition to the award for the ''Best National Costume''), such as ''Best in Evening Gown,'' ''Best in Swimsuit,'' the 'Miss Jag Denim Queen Award' (endorsement), and the 'Miss Ever Bilena Cosmetics Award' (endorsement).
She also won some popularity competitions, such as the 'Dairy Queen's Award' and the 'Pizza Hut's Award 2018.’ Gray then participated in the 2018 'Miss Universe' contest held on December 17, 2018, at the 'IMPACT Arena,' Muang Thong Thani, in Nonthaburi Province, Thailand. With this, she became the first Filipina to run for both the 'Miss World' and the 'Miss Universe' titles. She also became the second Filipina to represent her country in two major international beauty pageants, after Carlene Aguilar in 2005.
For the “Best Costume” contest, Gray wore a beaded suit inspired by the tribal art of the ancient pagan Filipinos. The attire had an oversized “parol,” pulled by a roller device. The costume earned accolades for its grandeur and for the fact that it showcased a particular culture with authenticity. However, the complexity of the dress gained a lot of criticism, especially after Gray revealed that she had been suffering from scoliosis, to explain her difficulty of walking in the costume.
In the swimwear competition, Gray showcased her popular slow-motion ''lava walk.'' She ended up winning the pageant, and the outgoing winner, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa, passed the crown on to her.
Following the pageant, she settled in New York, sharing an apartment with 'Miss USA 2018,’ Sarah Rose Summers. She then appeared in a string of interviews on 'Good Morning America,' 'Today and Live with Kelly and Ryan,' 'Inside Edition,' and several other news/media outlets and talk shows. She did an in-depth interview at the 'Build Series Studio.' Gray also guest-appeared on several TV, web, and radio shows. She visited several countries as part of her victory tour.
On February 2, 2019, she attended the red-carpet event for the 'National Football League Awards' in Atlanta, Georgia, along with 'Miss USA.' Back in New York, she attended the 'amfAR Gala.' She also appeared on several shows at the 'New York Fashion Week.'
That month, Gray had two homecoming parades in her native country, where she displayed her “lava walk” and her most-talked-about Mayon gown. The first parade covered Pasay, Manila, and Makati, while the second was held around the ‘Araneta Center’ in Cubao. ‘ABS-CBN’ produced the homecoming special.
On March 8, 2019, Gray graced the coronation ceremony of the pageant known as ‘Puteri Indonesia.’ She attended the 2019 'Latin Music Awards,' held at the 'Dolby Theatre,' Hollywood and Highlands, Los Angeles, on October 17 that year.
The pageant victory earned her several endorsements and TV commercials. Gray also showcased her singing talent in a 'YouTube' music video.
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Gray passed on her crown to 'Miss Universe 2019,' Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, on December 8, at the 'Tyler Perry Studios' in Atlanta, Georgia.
Gray currently co-hosts the new 'Mini Miss U' segment for 'It's Showtime.'
Family & Personal Life
Gray is currently in a relationship with Filipino–American actor Sam Milby. Their relationship was made public via a social-media post on May 23, 2020.
In October 2019, along with 'Miss USA 2019,’ Cheslie Kryst, and 'Miss Teen USA,' Kaliegh Garris, Gray visited a non-profit organization called 'Smile Train' in Brazil. Partnering with the 'Miss Universe Organization,' the charity supports children with clefts. Gray has been associated with the organization since then and has participated in several fund-raising campaigns for the surgeries of such children.
Some of the other charitable organizations she supports are 'Education Through Music New York,' 'Best Buddies,' 'God's Love We Deliver,' and 'Apicha CHC.' She also supports various LGBTQ forums.
Gray uses her singing talent to support the 'Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project,' which raises funds for the Filipino families living in the Smokey Mountain, one of the largest landfill sites in Tondo, Manila, who are dependent on scavenging for their livelihood.
She made a 'YouTube' video to raise funds to transform a three-story building in the Smokey Mountain area into a child-care center and preschool. After the building was completely erected, Gray featured it in her music video of her first single, 'We're in This Together.'
In 2016, Gray collaborated with the non-government organization called 'Young Focus Philippines' to provide education to Filipino children.
She has worked with 'Love Yourself PH,' which organizes awareness campaigns for HIV/AIDS and educates people about the disease to eradicate the stigma attached to it.
Apart from singing, Gray also loves to draw and paint. She often shares her drawings on her 'Instagram’ profile, which has earned more than 2 million followers. She has also put up some of her paintings for auction to raise funds for local charities and the 'Paraiso Project.'