Miss Universe 2018 judge on Catriona Gray: Prelim interview made big difference

MANILA, Philippines – It was Catriona Gray's viral "lava walk" and well-thought-of outfits that grabbed the world's attention at the Miss Universe 2018 pageant, but for the all-female panel of judges, it was her wit and confidence that secured her a spot. 

"As soon as she walked in, she answered her questions very well. Not only did she answer it very well, she answered it with confidence. And her confidence was not just any ordinary confidence, it was a confidence that was natural. Her confidence also came off as fun. It wasn't pilit na (forced that) she was rehearsing her answers," said Richelle Singson Michael, one of the 7 judges, in a chance interview with media on Wednesday, December 19.

"That made a big difference and that's what put her in the Top 20. When she was in the Top 10, 5, 3, it was already the way that she answered," Richelle added. (READ: Here are Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray's winning answers)

Richelle and her father, former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson, accompanied Catriona for a short trip back home after she won the crown in Bangkok, Thailand, last Monday, December 17.

Catriona arrived in Manila on Wednesday, flying in via private plane for a quick charity event. Richelle is chief executive officer of Platinum Skies Aviation.

By Thursday, December 20, Catriona will be flying to New York, her home for the duration of her reign. She'll then return to Manila in a "few weeks" for her formal homecoming. – Rappler.com