Miss USA 2022: R’Bonney Gabriel becomes first Filipina-American to win the pageant

The Texan beauty queen will now compete in Miss Universe on behalf of her country

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Beauty queen R'Bonney Gabriel has made history by becoming the first Filipina-American to be named Miss USA.

In July, she also became the first Filipina-America to be crowned Miss Texas USA.

The model, who beat 49 other candidates to succeed Miss USA 2021 Elle Smith, will now represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant on January 14 in New Orleans.

The ceremony took place on Monday at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada.

Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst, who died earlier this year, was honoured during the show, in the same venue where she was crowned.

Reigning Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu, from India, attended as a special guest, joined by Miss Universe Organisation President Paula Shugart.

Gabriel, 28, who is from Bayou City, is also a fashion designer who created some of the gowns she wore on stage. Her eco-friendly line, which encompasses T-shirts to dresses, is called R'Bonney Nola.

On Instagram, she posted a video detailing how she made the red dress she wore for the opening number from recycled materials.

"With fashion being one of the largest polluting industries in the world, I love to re-use old pieces to make something new and fabulous to cut down on waste," she captioned the post.

In another, she posted a video making another dress she wore for the pageant, saying she made it as a tribute to her parents.

"My mom is from Beaumont, TX and my father is from the Philippines. They got married in Manila, Philippines. I hand painted the same flower design from my mothers wedding dress onto my sleeves and tied in a traditional Maria Clara Filipina collar shape. I have immense gratitude for the opportunities my parents provided me and wanted to express my love to them through this."

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.

She will go up against Filipino-Italian beauty queen Celeste Cortesi, who was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2022 in a ceremony at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila in April.

Cortesi, 24, a representative for Pasay City, was born on December 15, 1997, to a Filipino mother and Italian father and was raised in Italy before moving to the Philippines five years ago to pursue a career in pageantry.

The professional model, who is training to become a property agent, also won the Miss Philippines Earth title in 2018. She represented the country at Miss Earth, where she placed in the top eight finalists.

She is the third Filipina to win two major national crowns, joining Carlene Aguilar, who was named Miss Philippines Earth 2001 and Miss World Philippines 2005, and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who was also Miss World Philippines 2016.

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Updated: October 04, 2022, 10:46 AM
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