Eight months into her reign as Miss Universe, Catriona Gray is showing no signs of exhaustion. She expressed excitement last week when she announced on her Instagram account she would be flying to South Africa—“my first trip to this part of the world!”
Apart from reuniting with Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and Miss South Africa 2018 Tamaryn Green, she attended closed-door preliminaries with this year’s contestants for the Miss South Africa pageant.
Sixteen hours from New York to Johannesburg? Not a problem. “I actually enjoy it because my superpower is sleeping,” Gray says with a grin. “I can sleep in a car, I can sleep on a plane—anywhere, really.”
She always boards her flight with her own water bottle (“Just ask for refills because the air can be so drying”). Gray also gets up to walk around the cabin every now and then, just to get her circulation going.
“Bring stuff to do. Before your flight, download Netflix shows or movies on your laptop, or bring something to read,” she suggests.
When it’s time to work, however, Gray is always ready, especially when it involves her twin advocacies: HIV awareness and caring for children.
“I really looked forward to working with organizations, and so far, a lot of the work has been very fulfilling. I’ve seen a lot come to fruition with my two charities here in the Philippines, Young Focus and Love Yourself,” she said.
After she was crowned, cash donations came pouring in for Young Focus—enough to cover a year’s expenses.
Gray has long been known for being open and outspoken but she said she has to be “very mindful and aware of what’s going on.”
“I had to view everything with an open mind because as Miss Universe, I’m now speaking to a universal audience. I am also the face of the organization, so I had to learn how to approach certain topics and talk about issues I was concerned about.”
One thing she is still adjusting to is being under public scrutiny, particularly when she’s in the Philippines. Gray is delighted to meet and talk with people; it’s in her nature.
During the lead-up to the Miss Universe competition, she purposely did not read any social media, preferring to upload photos and captions but not even glancing at the comments.
“Now I read the comments because I like having the opportunity to educate or clarify issues, because that’s how conversations happen. Social media is a tool, a means to have a conversation,” she said.
Since winning, however, she has been unable to walk around the Philippines in public without an escort. “I still feel like a very simple girl, like the same person. It just so happened that I was launched on this platform overnight. I won and then—boop!—I was here.”
It may sound like she’s complaining, but that’s really not the case. She just misses being able to connect with people. As the new image model for Cream Silk Hydra Fresh, she has the chance to do that once again.
Cream Silk brand manager Carlos Corrales describes Gray as a “modern, world-class Filipina.”
“She is strong and powerful, lives her life with purpose and always strives for greatness, whether working on her advocacies or working to better herself,” Corrales said. “She is very passionate and uses her platform to try to make a positive impact on Filipinos’ lives.”
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