Miss Texas R'Bonney Gabriel Makes History as First Filipino-American to Win Miss USA

Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel
Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel

Miss USA Instagram Miss USA 2022

We have a winner!

Miss Texas R'Bonney Gabriel was crowned Miss USA 2022 on Monday at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada, beating out Miss North Carolina Morgan Romano and Miss Nebraska Natalie Pieper for the title.

Gabriel, 28, is the first Filipino-American to win the pageant and will go on to represent the U.S. at the upcoming Miss Universe pageant, which is scheduled to take place on Jan. 23 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

"Oh my God, it's an honor," Gabriel told Houston Life following her win. "I'm getting messages on Instagram and just social media of Filipina girls and women telling me they're so excited, they're so happy."

"They're crying tears of joy because they are inspired to go after pageantry or something," she added. "Like I'm paving the way for them to just go after whatever they want no matter what it is. So it's an honor."

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Gabriel succeeds Miss Kentucky Elle Smith, who was named Miss USA in 2021. Smith, 23, crowned her successor during Monday's ceremony, officially passing off her duties as last year's winner as a result.

"Class of 2021, I hope I made you proud," Smith posted on social media ahead of the show, adding that winning the title was "The moment that changed my life forever."

In December 2021, Gabriel became the first Asian American to claim the Miss Texas USA title. Speaking to ABC News on Oct.3 the Houston resident explained how she felt a "big responsibility" to positively honor her multicultural background while representing the Lone Star State in a hope that it could empower others to do the same.

"My dad moved to America from the Philippines on a college scholarship with about $20 in his pocket. He wanted to pave a new life for himself. He met my mom in Texas, who is a country woman from Beaumont," Gabriel told ABC News' local affiliate in Houston. "I'm a very proud Filipina Texan."

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Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel
Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel

Miss USA Instagram Miss USA 2022

The model and designer runs her own fashion label R'Bonney Nola, which uses sustainable design methods and a combination of repurposed or natural fabrics in all its clothing, per its website.

"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," adds the website. "By recycling more fabrics and reducing the amount of fabric scraps made during the production process, the more friendlier to our planet fashion can be."

RELATED: Miss Kentucky Elle Smith Wins Miss USA 2021 — as Fellow Pageant Contestant Makes History

Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel
Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel

Miss USA Instagram Miss USA 2022

Aside from this, Gabriel is also a sewing teacher at Houston-based nonprofit Magpies and Peacocks, which reuses post-consumer clothing, scrap textiles and accessories diverted from landfill to create sustainable clothing.

"OMG, we are beyond proud that our very own R'Bonney Nola just won Miss USA 2022!," Magpies and Peacocks posted on social media after Gabriel's win. "One of the sweetest, kindest and most giving people we know, this gorgeous young lady is so deserving of this crown and we are beyond proud to have her as a part of our sustainable fashion tribe ❤️❤️❤️. Our queen with the heart of gold. #magpiesandpeacocks"

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Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel
Miss USA 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel

Miss USA Instagram

This year's Miss USA competition drew former contestants like Miss Michigan 2021 Taylor Hale, who went on to win Big Brother 24 this summer.

Emmy award-winning television personality Zuri Hall hosted the event for the second year in a row.

As for her own future, Gabriel told ABC News that she plans to take her commitment to sustainable clothing to the next level

"I foresee myself in really dreaming about having a bigger brand that is focused on sustainability and being a leading voice in the industry that's helping the industry push to a more environmentally friendly practice," Gabriel said.