MISS USA 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel positioned herself as one of the favorites to grab the Miss Universe crown on Saturday.
A fashion designer from Houston made history when she became the first Filipina-American to win Miss Texas USA.
She was crowned Miss USA in October 2022, succeeding Miss Kentucky Elle Smith, who was named Miss USA in 2021.
“Oh my God, I’m honored. I’ve been getting messages on Instagram and social media from Filipino girls and women telling me they’re so excited, they’re so happy,” Gabriel told Houston Life after her win.
“They’re crying tears of joy because they’re inspired to go after the show or something. Like I’m paving the way for them to just go after what they want, no matter what it is. So it’s an honor.”
The beauty queen has been sharing behind-the-scenes content on her Instagram as she prepares for Saturday’s pageant in New Orleans.
“I feel like I’m dreaming! This week was so inspiring to be around beautiful women,” she captioned several snaps with fellow contestants.
On Thursday, Gabriela wowed the crowd as she modeled a “woman on the moon” look for the national costume portion of the pageant.
She said on Instagram that the message she wanted to send with the look was to “dream big, shoot for the moon and achieve something out of this world.”
According to her Miss Universe bio, she enjoys hula hooping, backpacking and reading in her spare time.
Gabriel received his degree in Fashion Design with a minor in Fibers in 2018 from the University of North Texas.
She first started sewing at the age of 15 and fell in love with the process of constructing things from fabrics and textiles.
After college, she went on to intern with fashion designer Nicole Miller in New York.
According to Gabriela’s bio, she is an “eco-friendly fashion designer, a sewing instructor for victims of domestic violence, an artist who helps women learn the tools to succeed, an advocate for sustainability in the fashion industry.”
Her outfit for the opening number of Miss Texas USA was a dress she made from a coat she found at a thrift store.
She often designs and makes her own wardrobe for interviews and rehearsals, and shared a preview of her outfit for the show with her fans on Instagram.
Gabriel modeled for six years before joining the Miss Universe Organization.
Past winners of the competition, now in its 71st year, have gone on to become leaders in medicine, politics and business, among other achievements.
The winner is crowned by the 70th Miss Universe — Bollywood actress Harnaaz Sandhu from India.