NEW ORLEANS - R'Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model, and University of North Texas graduate, was crowned the 71st Miss Universe on Saturday night.
The competition took place in New Orleans where Gabriel edged out 83 other contestants, including Venezuelan runner-up Amanda Dudmel.
Gabriel, a Houston native, became the first Filipino American to win the Miss USA title last year.
As a voice for Asian-Americans, she opens the door for more diversity and representation in society and was honored to be published in Vogue Philippines," said the Miss Universe website of Gabriel. "R’Bonney’s mission is for women and young girls to see themselves in her, and feel inspired to conquer their goals by owning who they are."
During the Q&A section of the last stage of the competition for the final three finalists, Gabriel was asked how she would like to represent the Miss Universe title should she win the award.
I would use it to be a transformational leader,” she responded, highlighting the sustainable clothing line she runs and teaching sewing to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.
It is so important to invest in others, invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference,” Gabriel said. “We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds to other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change.”
Gabriel, 28, was overcome with joy by her victory. After being crowned, she spoke to the media about how gratifying it is to win the Miss Universe title.
The support is everything," she said. "I feel it [in] my heart. I heard it in the room. It was an amazing energy. The Filipino blood is so strong. We are hardworking, we're fun and we're determined, and I'm so proud to be half-Filipina.”
Gabriela also detailed her first actions as Miss Universe, which included catching up on some much-needed rest.
First thing I would like to do is sleep more than four hours, and then eat some ensaymada – that’s my favorite Filipino treat – and I would love to give my family and friends a hug, and just thank them so much for getting me here,” she said.
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