Miss Universe 2018: Who Is Miss Philippines Catriona Gray?

The world has a new Miss Universe. Miss Philippines Catriona Gray took home the crown on Sunday night in the 67th annual pageant, which was held in Bangkok, Thailand. But who is the 24-year-old woman who beat out 93 other contestants in the biggest beauty pageant in the world? Here’s what we know about Miss Universe 2018

She is the fourth winner from the Philippines

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray

Catriona Gray of Philippines reacts as she is crowned the new Miss Universe 2018 by Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. | Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images

Gray is the fourth woman from the Philippines to win the Miss Universe title. The Southeast Asian country now has the fourth-highest number of winners in the world. Pia Wurtzbach won the contest in 2015, while Margarita Moran won in 1973 and Gloria Diaz in 1969.

Venezuela and the United States are tied for the most Miss Universe winners, with seven each. There have also been five winners from Puerto Rico.

Her dress was inspired by a volcano

During the competition, Gray donned an eye-catching red gown with a thigh-high slit. But the dress was more than just a stunning outfit. It also paid homage to the Mayon volcano in her home country of the Philippines.

Designer Mak Tumang explained the connection in an Instagram post, writing that “prominent and iconic Mayon Volcano is the penultimate inspiration for this creation … Catriona can be considered as the modern-day Daragang Magayon. She embodies the Filipina’s beauty, intelligence and burning passion. This lady is definitely on fire!”

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MAYON: Fiery and Lovely Perfection Today, Catriona is coming home. She is celebrating her roots – she is celebrating Albay! The prominent and iconic Mayon Volcano is the penultimate inspiration for this creation. It is dubbed as the ‘perfect cone’ because of its symmetric conical form. Folk tales have it that it was named after the mythological heroine ‘Daragang Magayon’ (Beautiful Lady). Despite its pulchritude is the fact that it is the most active volcano in the Philippines erupting numerous times in the past half a millennium. Catriona can be considered as the modern-day Daragang Magayon. She embodies the Filipina’s beauty, intelligence and burning passion. This lady is definitely on fire! Watch her erupt right before your very eyes and let the lava of grace, goodness and hope flow.

A post shared by Mak Tumang (@maktumang) on

She’s a pageant pro

There’s no pageant title bigger than Miss Universe, but this isn’t the first time Gray has won a crown. In addition to being named Miss Universe Philippines, which allowed her to advance to the Miss Universe pageant, she was also crowned Miss World Philippines in 2016. She competed in the 2016 Miss World pageant, where she finished in the top five. 

She has a U.S. connection

Gray is the daughter of a Filipina mother and an Australian father. She was born and attended school in Australia and represented the Philippines in the pageant. But she also has a U.S. connection, having studied music theory at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

In addition to music, Gray loves Filipino food like adobo and balut as well as adventurous activities like ziplining. She’s a volunteer teacher’s assistant at Young Focus, an NGO, and also an HIV/AIDS advocate at Love Yourself PH.

During the question and answer segment of the contest, she was asked about what lessons she’s learned and how she’d apply those to her time as Miss Universe. She talked about her time spent volunteering with underprivleged populations in the Philippines.

I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is poor and very sad. And I’ve always taught to myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful. And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster and children will have smile on their faces.

Her mother knew she would win the crown

Becoming Miss Universe is no easy feat, but there was one person who always new Gray would take home the crown: her mother. More than a decade ago, her mother saw her daughter winning the pageant.

“When I was 13 my mom said she had a dream that I would win Miss Universe in a red dress,” Gray told the AP after her win. She said the two cried when they saw each other after she won. “My heart is filled with so much gratitude,” she added.

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