Catriona Gray was a natural charmer in her back-to-back guest appearances in US talk shows on Monday, marking the start of her reign as Miss Universe.
The Filipino beauty queen first sat down for an interview on “Good Morning America,” where she briefly discussed her advocacy for children’s education, as well as her love for music, and her mother’s prophetic dream of her being crowned in a red grown.
Just an hour later, Gray hopped to another New York studio, this time “Live with Kelly and Ryan” for the show’s first live episode for the year.
Gray, who turned 25 on January 6, was greeted a happy birthday by hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, before asking how she celebrated.
She visited Broadway and had a “food trip,” Gray answered.
Host Ripa then brought up Gray’s Australian roots, which opened a discussion on the beauty queen’s diverse background. Her mother, Normita Magnayon, is Filipino, while her father, Ian Gray, is a Scottish immigrant to Australia.
“I was born and raised in Australia then I moved to the Philippines as a teenager,” she said, transitioning to the subject of her latest big move — to New York for her Miss Universe duties.
Explaining how she has been adjusting to the winter there, Gray said she’s had to look like a “siopao,” or fluffy, with a minimum of three layers of clothes to keep warm.
In a moment that drew loud cheers from the audience — apparently from Filipinos who showed support for Gray — she shared how her winning red gown by Mak Tumang drew inspiration from Mayon Volcano.
Ripa and Seacrest noticed the packed balcony area of the studio, where the thunderous reactions came from.
“Filipino fans are the best fans in the world, and this whole journey has been amazing,” Gray said.
The topic then switched to Gray’s stint as Little Miss Philippines, with a photo of her as a 5-year-old pageant winner flashed onscreen. Ripa quipping Gray doesn’t appear to have changed then and now launched a back-and-forth of self-deprecation about awkwardness and height, prompting more laughter.
Turning serious, Gray went on to discuss her work with Young Focus, the children’s education group in Tondo which she also highlighted during the Miss Universe pageant.
“I really believe that education is transformative. It’s something that you can give to a child or to a person that can never be taken away from them, which is why I’m so passionate about it,” she explained.
“These kids, without NGOs like that, might not ever experience going to school, experience developing a love for learning, which, at the end of the day, is really what can pull out a family out of poverty,” Gray added.
The five-minute sit-down on “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” as well as the two-minute interview on “Good Morning America,” drew proud reactions from Filipino pageant fans on social media, with most praising Gray for her eloquence and ability to engage with the hosts that produce both light-hearted and substantial conversations.