Gray was born in Cairns, Queensland to a Scottish-born Australian father, Ian Gray, from Fraserburgh, and a Filipino mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon, from the Philippines.
She received a master's certificate in music theory from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and hopes one day will release her own album. In addition, she obtained a Certificate in Outdoor Recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do Martial Arts. Furthermore, Catriona was the lead singer of her School's jazz band, and she also starred in local productions of Miss Saigon. After finishing her high school in Australia, she then moved to the Philippines where she worked as a commercial Model. Catriona Gray is passionate also about arts.
She works closely with Young Focus Philippines, She started her school that is free for all children and raised money to restore an old apartment in Manila into childcare plus center. Additionally, Catriona is an advocate for H.I.V. or AIDS education and prevention after losing a close friend to the virus. She supports Love Yourself Philippines, an organization that offers free testing, education, and treatment to those living with H.I.V. or AIDS, and now as Miss Universe, plans to bring more awareness to the epidemic.
Her foray into the world of pageantry began in 1999 when she won Little Miss Philippines in Sydney at the age of five.
On October 2016, Gray was crowned as Miss World Philippines 2016.
After winning her national competition, Gray competed at Miss World 2016 held in the United States where she was placed in the Top 5.
Gray represented the Philippines in the 2018 Miss Universe contest on 17 December 2018 held at Thailand. During the first question and answer round, Gray was asked by host Steve Harvey, "Canada recently joined Uruguay as the second nation in the world to make marijuana legal. What is your opinion on the regularization of marijuana?" She responded:
I'm for it being used for medical use, but not so for recreational use. Because I think if people will argue then what about alcohol and cigarettes? Everything is good but in moderation.
During the national costume show presentation, Gray showcased a beaded tribal suit featuring the indigenous tribes of the ancient pagan Filipinos, alongside an oversized Parol painted Christmas lantern pulled by a roller device. The costume was accompanied by a pre-Christian Shamanic dance of the historical Babaylan paganism.
In the pageant's preliminary stages, Catriona Gray did a slow-motion walk on the ramp in the swimwear competition wearing a pink swimsuit, which was praised by fashion commentators and Internet viewers.
Gray was announced as the winner and was crowned as Miss Universe 2018. She is the fourth Filipinas Miss Universe.
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