Former Miss Universe Catriona Gray is marking “firsts” as the chosen host of what showrunners are promising to be the biggest Pinoy pop (P-pop) search on local television.

The Fil-Aussie beauty queen, host and recording artist will be hosting Top Class, The Rise To P-Pop Stardom, a reality competition that tracks the journey of 30 talented male aspirants into becoming worthy members of the next big Filipino idol boy group. Slated to premiere sometime this year, the show is mounted through the joint partnership of Kumu, Cignal Entertainment, TV5 and Cornerstone Entertainment.

Of course, Catriona knows more than a thing or two about how to be on top of the class, so to speak. It’s the pageant season once again, and her feat back in 2018 continues to inspire many hopefuls. But the 28-year-old has since expanded her career to include hosting, performing, songwriting and possibly acting this year, as she mentioned in a previous interview.

Catriona with (from left) Kumu chief commercial officer Luis Paolo Pineda, Cornerstone Entertainment president Erickson Raymundo and Cornerstone vice president Jeffrey Vadillo during a contract-signing for the original talent show.

Photos from Cornerstone Entertainment

“We believe Catriona is the perfect host for our show. We all know her strength and determination in reaching her goals. She also knows the value of preparation and excellence, especially in making a mark in the world stage. Not only will she be able to weave the show together but she will also be able to impart important life lessons to the students and to all our viewers,” said Jeff Vadillo, vice president of Cornerstone Entertainment in a statement.

Catriona, sharing her reaction with The STAR, said of her first time to serve as the main host and do a reality show: “Of course, I was really, really excited but also very grateful for the opportunity. This is my first time to host a reality-type show because I’ve dabbled in hosting a variety show and also as a guest host, but this will be my first main host position. So, I’m very grateful to Cornerstone Entertainment, TV5 and Cignal Entertainment, and Kumu for this opportunity.”

“And I think it’s a really exciting movement to be a part of because P-pop is really taking the world by storm,” she added.

Here’s our brief Q&A with Catriona:

How are you preparing for this new hosting gig? What do you think would be the most challenging and most exciting aspects of it?

“Well, the preparations haven’t really started per se because the project really just got announced a few weeks ago. But, I think, it’ll really be about familiarizing myself with the mechanics of a musical group. I mean, as an artist myself, I understand what goes into it as a solo artist, but I’m sure there’s a whole different dynamic in terms of being a group. So, that’s something that I would like to familiarize myself with.

“And what do I think would be the most challenging and the most exciting part of hosting Top Class? I guess, yun din. I would really like to use this opportunity to get to know everyone’s story and to really understand the drive behind everyone and really what their dream is. I hope I’m given that opportunity to really have those in-depth conversations even if they’re not in front of the camera with the aspirants.

“But I’m just honestly so excited to see how they’re going to progress, how they’re going to develop, how they’re going to grow, how their craft is going to improve over the course of the show, because they will have amazing opportunities for training and development during the show. And I think that’s really what sets Top Class apart and so it’s really, really awesome to be a witness to that.”

What do you know so far about the P-pop genre and what are your thoughts about the current P-pop wave?

“Of course, I am familiar with the P-pop groups that are present in our music industry at the moment. And it’s really amazing to see how, I mean, SB19 got nominated for a Billboard award and that local Philippine pop groups are really making waves abroad. Not only because they have such a huge fan support system, but also because they are just extremely talented and I just really love that they’re really carrying Filipino culture with them. I think it’s an amazing thing that brings pride to so many Pinoys around the world, but also allows other nationalities, other countries, to really sit up and take notice of what the Philippines has to offer.”

Can you give us a little idea as to what kind of P-pop group Top Class is looking for?

“Well, it’s really going to materialize during the course of the show. But what is exciting is that these individuals will be trained in every aspect that allows a group to be successful. That’s not just the performance aspect, but also development. It’s developing their character, their professionalism, their work ethic. I believe there’s even about their branding, presenting themselves. So, it’s a really holistic, well-rounded approach and I really think that’s what is the factor that allows artists to develop and also sustain their success.

“So, there’s no doubt that the final P-pop group of Top Class will not only be enriched with great experience, but will also have amazing resources at their hands and just be really well-supported as they go on to continue their career after the competition itself.”

As a music artist yourself, would you be open to collaborate with a P-pop group?

“Absolutely. I would definitely love to explore that genre. And I think it’s becoming synonymous with being Filipino. P-pop is a genre that’s all around aside from OPM, so it would be a wonderful space to explore.”

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