Miss Texas USA has a Filipino-American winner for the first time. R'Bonney Gabriel was crowned the pageant queen at a ceremony in Houston.
"My heart is filled with joy," Gabriel, 28, wrote on Instagram after the event. "It's an honour to become Miss Texas USA 2022. I want to thank everyone involved in this special time! I have so much gratitude for your support."
The beauty queen is a Harris County resident, and was previously crowned Miss Friendswood. Friendswood is a city on the outskirts of Houston.
Gabriel graduated from the University of North Texas in Denton in 2018, and now runs independent fashion label R'Bonney Nola in Houston. She also runs sewing classes through the non-profit organisation Magpies & Peacocks in the city.
As Miss Texas USA, Gabriel will go on to represent her home state in the Miss USA pageant, the winner of which competes in the Miss Universe competition. The last Miss Texas USA to win Miss USA was Crystle Stewart, who went on to place in the top 10 at Miss Universe that year. Stewart has been the director of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA since 2020.
For her interview with Miss Texas USA, Gabriel wore a Filipiniana dress (or Maria Clara gown) of her own design.
"I had to wear a design I made," Gabriel wrote on Instagram, later sharing a video of her production process.
On stage over the weekend, Gabriel wore a custom gown created by Filipino designer Rian Fernandez. The ornate piece features trumpet sleeves and is embellished with glass beads, oversized rhinestones, Swarovski stones and sequins.
"Honoured to wear this @rianfernandez888 gown on the Miss Texas stage," she wrote. "It’s not every day I get to wear a piece made by a team of skilled crafters and I love every inch and detail of it and really appreciate all the work that went into this."
The coming Miss USA 2022 will be the 71st Miss USA pageant, of which the date and location have not yet been announced.
Miss Universe 2022 is expected to take place in December.
Miss Texas USA and Miss Texas
Miss Texas USA differs from Miss Texas. While the former's winners take a trajectory towards Miss Universe, the latter competition's winners go on to compete for the Miss America crown, and for various scholarships at Miss America.
“It’s such an emotional feeling because when I was a kid, I never dreamed of becoming Miss Texas because I didn’t think that anyone looked like me as Miss Texas,” she said in an interview with NBC Dallas Fort-Worth.
Bishop is a Southern Methodist University graduate, who also studied law at the same school.
On her website, she describes herself as a “first-generation law student diversifying the digital space through education and career-based content”. She also lists herself as a marathon runner who has dined with two presidents and is a Dallas council member.