HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — For the first time in state history, Asian American women will represent Texas at two of America’s most prestigious pageants
Averie Bishop, 26, made history on June 25 when she became the first Asian American to win the Miss Texas America title. She was born and raised in McKinney, attended school in Prosper and now resides in Dallas.
“It means the world, not only to myself, but also to 6-year-old Averie, who never thought for a day that she even had the possibility of dreaming of being Miss Texas or Miss America,” said Bishop . “I grew up in a small town for the first few years after my mother immigrated from the Philippines. My parents both had two jobs and we relied on nutrition programs to look like me. I felt very alone and underrepresented.”
Just a week later, on July 2, history was made again when Houston native R’Bonney Gabriel, 28, became the first Asian American to win the Miss Texas USA title.
“I feel like I have a very big responsibility to not only share my culture as a Filipino and a Texan, but I really want to show people the importance of embracing who you are,” Gabriel said. “My father moved to America from the Philippines on a college scholarship with about $20 in his pocket. He wanted to start a new life. He met my mother in Texas, a country woman from Beaumont. I’m a very proud Filipino Texan.”
Bishop, who has a law degree, currently runs her own social media consultancy. The turning point came during the COVID-19 pandemic when it went viral online, garnering more than a million total followers across multiple platforms. She and her mother run a non-profit organization called the Tulong Foundation, which provides financial support to girls in third world countries to enable them to get an education.
“If I were to win Miss America, I really want to revolutionize the organization and internationalize the title. Right now, Miss America is in this phase of trying to stay relevant. That’s the whole conversation in the system. I will be Honestly, one of the greatest ways to stay relevant is to be relevant not just to an audience here in the US, but around the world,” Bishop said.
Gabriel is a model and fashion designer who studied fashion design and received his Fine Arts degree from the University of North Texas. She works with East Downtown non-profit organization Magpies and Peacocks to improve sustainability in the industry. Gabriel teaches sewing to women in underserved communities as well as survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She hopes to help them develop skills, work toward their own businesses, and find a sense of community.
“I can see that I really dream of having a bigger brand that is focused on sustainability and being a leading voice in the industry helping the industry to advance greener practice,” said Gabriel. “We all have a special talent. But it’s up to us to devote our lives to discovering and figuring out what really makes us special. I think it’s just so important to do that self work.”
Gabriel is currently in Reno, Nevada competing for Miss USA, a beauty pageant. If she wins the national title on Monday, she will be in the Miss Universe pageant.
Bishop will compete on December 15th for Miss America, a scholarship competition that will be held in Connecticut. Her platform is Y’all Means All, which promotes diversity and inclusion. She tells ABC13 that she plans to do a singing performance, “On My Own” by Les Misérables, for the talent show.
You can follow Gabriel’s journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitterand Bishop’s journey on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
For stories about Houston’s diverse communities, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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https://abc13.com/first-american-asian-women-texas-pageants-titleholders-miss-usa-america/12288033/ Miss USA and Miss America: Asian American women representing the most prestigious Texas pageants in the United States