R'Bonney Gabriel is Miss Universe 2022
First Filipino-American Miss USA to win the title
R'Bonney Gabriel, the first Filipina Texan to win Miss Texas USA and Miss USA, is the new Miss Universe. The 28-year-old was crowned the 71st Miss Universe in New Orleans, January 14, 2023.
Gabriel was born in Houston, Texas, on March 20, 1994, to a Filipino father, Remigio Bonzon “R. Bon” Gabriel, and an American mother, Dana Walker. She has three older brothers. Her father was born in the Philippines and is originally from Manila, having immigrated to Washington state at the age of 25. He went on to earn his doctorate degree in psychology at the University of Houston. Her mother is from Beaumont, Texas. Gabriel graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design with a minor in fibres. She now works as a designer creating eco-friendly clothing, and as a model.
In the final Q&A segment, the top three contenders were asked how they would work to demonstrate Miss Universe as an empowering and progressive organization if they won the title.
Gabriel said: “I would use it [the Miss Universe platform] to be a transformational leader. As a very passionate designer, I’ve been sewing for 13 years. I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I’m cutting down on pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I teach sewing classes to women who survived human trafficking and domestic violence, and I say that because it is so important to invest in others, invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special and when we plant those seeds in other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change.”
Gabriel was crowned Miss Universe 2022 by the outgoing titleholder India's Harnaaz Sandhu, making her the ninth American to win the pageant. The last Miss USA to win Miss Universe was Olivia Culpo at Miss Universe 2012.
The Miss Universe runner up is Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel. Philippines’ Celeste Cortesi, the 25-year-old Filipino-Italian beauty queen, failed to advance to the pageant’s finals top 16. This is the first time since 2010 that the Philippines didn’t enter the pageant’s semi-finals.