Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel wins Miss Universe


Photo courtesy of Coralys Melo

Sophomore Lianis Melo watches the recap of Miss Universe on her phone. Melo was amazed by the character of the crowned Miss Universe.

For the first time since 2012, a Miss USA contestant has won Miss Universe. Miss Universe is an annual beauty pageant and is one of the most watched pageants in the world. The Miss Universe competition looks to empower and celebrate women of all backgrounds; 84 women from around the world compete for the title.

Not only is R’Bonney Gabriel the first Asian American to win Miss Texas USA, but she is also the first Filipina to win Miss USA. She is the current Miss Universe, crowned in 2022, becoming the ninth entrant from the United States to win the title, as well as the oldest entrant to be crowned, at age 28. Gabriel winning Miss Universe has promoted Asian-American pride.

As a Filipina-American, I look up to R’Bonney Gabriel. She is a role model who opened the door for diversity and uses her platform to spread a positive message. I’ve been watching Miss Universe with my family since I was a little girl, as it is a very special event for the Philippines. Many young girls have taken R’Bonney Gabriel’s approach and used it to empower confidence in their identities.

“It’s incredibly inspiring to see another girl of my culture win the face of the country I’ve lived in for most of my life. She symbolizes the strength to push through against all boundaries using her beauty, intelligence and kindness. She empowers all young Filipina girls, especially me, to be my true self in all circumstances because, in the end, it’s your true courage that shines through,” junior Alexis Degala said.

According to The U.S. Sun, Gabriel had been modeling for six years before joining the Miss Universe Organization. Garbriel is an eco-friendly fashion designer, model and sewing instructor. Gabriel has a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design and a minor in Fibers from the University of North Texas. She worked as an intern under renowned designer Nicole Miller.

She is currently the CEO of her own clothing line, R’Bonney Nola. The clothing line practices sustainable design methods and uses repurposed/natural materials.

“The garments are mindfully created with experimental textures, embroideries, and unique handwork in order to reduce the amount of textile waste produced by each piece,” R’Bonney Nola said.

Gabriel is also a philanthropist who seeks to give back to communities.

The Magpies & Peacocks, or “MAKR,” Program offers a formal training program to provide underserved community members with the tools and skills to help them become successful independent makers, business entrepreneurs or attain gainful employment. Through this program, Gabriel teaches sewing classes to women who have survived human trafficking and domestic violence.
In preparation for her Miss USA interview, Gabriel shared clips of the 50 hour long process of hand-making her outfit for the interview on Instagram. In the interview, she shares the thoughts behind her creation.
“Thunderstorms are dark, they’re chaotic, and it was just a reflection of my time as Miss USA. These last three months, there were ups and downs. There were many challenges, and I was forced to look for the beauty in darkness,” Gabriel said.

R’Bonney Gabriel sharing her passions with the world has created much pride for Filipino representation in America.
“I have a deep affinity with Miss Universe because I am also Filipino. It shows that there’s a lot of talent to be found within our people and how diverse we are,” senior Casey Orino said.