One cool (and gorgeous) Cat

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MIDRIFF top and A-line skirt, all by Josie Lim; black pumps from Aldo

Filipino-Australian model-singer Catriona Gray was one of the up-and-coming young models of 2012. You might have recognized her from her TVC of a beauty toner, and from a production number during a Bench Universe event.

Now, she is among the retail giant’s brand endorsers, and a lot of young models are looking up to her. 2BU caught up with the young model as she talked about her humble beginnings and passions.

In a bright-yellow dress, Catriona stood up and gave me a warm smile as we were introduced. The friendly gesture said much about her personality: warm and smart.

I had worked with her before this interview. I’ve noted how she’s one of those models who doesn’t need to be told what to do before the camera.

WHITE fringe dress from Bench, pink suede pumps from Aldo

However, modeling full-time was not exactly her plan. “All through my childhood, I always saw modeling as a part-time hobby, never as a sole career. I was only planning to pursue modeling for a gap year after graduating from high school, before attending university in Australia to study science and arts,” she says.

Learning to be a model

Born to a Filipino mother, Cat would fly to the country to visit her mother’s kin in Laguna. She says she was encouraged to join modeling competitions in Laguna. “I had participated in a lot of regional modeling competitions—that’s how I learned to walk and work in front of a camera.”

Don’t let her sweet and princess-like features fool you; her voice is just the opposite. I can compare it to the voice of Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine—just give it a dark spin. It’s haunting, and it seems like an angel is talking to you.

After doing a demo for Mother’s Day in 2012, opportunities came her way.

ORANGE-SLEEVE blazer, sheer Peter Pan-collar top and shorts, all by Denise Quintos; black pumps from Aldo

If she could pick between music and modeling, she would always choose the former. “Singing encompasses everything—improving technique, battling nerves, different things that a certain gig may need. I find music more interesting,” she points out.

Playing a character

She still has fears, despite her success at the young age of 19. “My biggest fear of modeling would be having people associate my image with my beliefs, values and personality. Modeling is all about playing a character, like an actor. So, I’m always conscious of my image and the jobs I choose,” she explains.

But she doesn’t let success and fame go to her head. She is still nervous about being a model and being one of Bench’s model endorsers. “I had a picture in my mind, that they usually get big local celebrities for the brand. No one knows me and I’ve been here for almost a year. It’s really an awesome opportunity.”

She had ups and downs last year, dealing with being alone and independent in the city. It changed her perspective. “I was torn between school and career, and I was able to overcome that obstacle with a lot of challenges and downfalls that come with growing up.”

PLUM halter sports dress by Gavin Ruffy, nude peep-toe heels from Aldo

Growing up is a vague notion, depending on what people go through. But to find yourself in a new country would cause a young person to skip the “teenage” part of life. Indeed, it was a big step for her.

She has a strong relationship with her parents. She talked about them in an easy, light manner. If she could pick a mentor, she would choose her father. “He is, without a doubt, the most inspiring person in my life. I’m very close to my parents, and I’m so very grateful for them. They are my real-life mentors, and they’ve guided me every step of the way.”

With her father’s support, she is inspired to pursue her passion and happiness: “My father taught me that life is precious, to grasp every opportunity, and that ‘if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.’”

Styling: Maureen Manuel

Photography: Adrian Gonzales

Hair: Jandra

Babiera

Makeup: Justine del Rosario

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