Catriona Gray on ‘pageantry business’ during Miss Universe reign

Catriona Gray on ‘advocacies, pageantry business’ during Miss Universe reign

/ 05:01 PM April 16, 2024

Catriona Gray on ‘advocacies, pageantry business’ during Miss Universe reign. Image: Facebook/Miss Universe

Catriona Gray. Image: Facebook/Miss Universe

It’s been six years since Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe, and she remained proud of how it turned out. Despite this, she recalled certain moments where she felt a “little disheartened” about not being able to balance her advocacy-driven initiatives and the business aspect of pageantry.

“I think I might’ve made everyone’s lives harder,” a laughing Gray said in a sit-down interview with Mega Magazine editor-in-chief Peewee Reyes-Isidro on the magazine’s YouTube channel on April 12, as she touched on the impact of her coronation in the global tilt.


When asked about “setting a standard” in pageantry, Gray recalled how there “was no such thing as a national costume” or “creating content” to showcase what a representative’s country had to offer.


“I’m so proud of how it turned out. I took a lot of risks. I did so many things that I haven’t done before or haven’t been popularized back then. Our standard has gone through the roof,” she said.

Despite this, the former titleholder pointed out that representatives shouldn’t feel pressured to follow in her footsteps because one’s pageant journey “will always be about the girl.”

“The whole show that Miss Universe and other pageants is a display of a representative to represent their culture or a part of their country, getting people to know more. With that being said, I love what it has created,” she said.

Top three finalist Catriona Gray (L) of the Philippines looks on while US artist Ne-Yo performs on stage during the 2018 Miss Universe Pageant in Bangkok on December 17, 2018. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Top three finalist Catriona Gray (L) of the Philippines looks on while US artist Ne-Yo performs onstage during the 2018 Miss Universe Pageant in Bangkok on December 17, 2018. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Miss Universe ’employee’

The interview then touched on the three important lessons Gray took to heart during her reign. One of which is to “be present” especially with a lot of things happening at once.

“I didn’t consider myself a public figure until the moment Philippines was called. It felt overwhelming at times, I wasn’t used to people pulling me in [different] directions and having interactions with [people]. I had to constantly tell myself to be present,” she said.

Gray appeared to be deep in thought as she opened up about being “thrown into the loop” after winning the title. This led her to explain that before winning Miss Universe, she was a leader of her team in the Philippines. But throughout her reign, she “became an employee” of the Miss Universe Organization.


“[I also learned to] regain your power in a way you can only control for yourself,” she said. “There was a reshifting. I’m not a leader, I am a follower. At first, that disheartened me a little bit because there are a lot of projects I wish I could’ve created when I won. I envisioned that I would do so much on-ground community work.”

READ: Catriona on pageantry: Not merely a show of good-looking women

The beauty queen then clarified that while she understood that prioritizing “profit-making events and big press type of engagements” is crucial in the “business aspect of the pageant system,” she didn’t understand why it couldn’t be balanced with advocacy-driven “on-ground initiatives and community work.”

“My message on the night that I won, was that I am a queen of service and people. I had to say to myself that I can’t control it,” she added. “But I couldn’t control it, but I could control myself. So I channeled all my energy into planning what I wanted to do after my reign, it’s kind of regaining my power again.”

During the interview, Gray also pointed out that ending a Miss Universe reign is not the “peak” of a beauty queen since there are many “peaks” one can achieve, even if it’s not done in a “public” way.

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“Many people would ask me what’s next after Mis Universe. It’s so big and it can sometimes make us feel that if I can’t reach the same public achievement, it was all it was for me. I understand the peaks come in many different shapes and forms in life, and it doesn’t have to be validated in such a public way to feel important,” she said.

TAGS: Catriona Gray, Miss Universe

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