12-year-old Fil-Am freelance professional model Alessandra Frazzetta is getting ready to walk at the New York Fashion Week this spring, and what better way to learn runway walk than from the newly-Crowned Miss Universe R'Bonney Gabriel.
Frazzetta has down syndrome but that did not stop her from graduating from Barbizon, New York and pursuing a modeling career in the Big Apple. She is even set to compete in the International Modeling and Talent Association’s showcase in June.
Gabriel, the first Fil-Am to win Miss Texas USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe, has a special tip for the budding runway model.
"When I go out on stage, I just tell myself I'm the most amazing beautiful girl and I can do it. Just put one foot in front of the other and just have that fierceness," Gabriel said.
Frazzetta is among a growing number of models with special needs who are breaking barriers and making their mark in various fields.
"We're very fortunate that things are opening doors for her and it's like breaking the barriers for disability and she's loving it. That's the most important thing," her mother Elle said.
Gabriel also told Frazzetta that sometimes, achieving one's dream such as becoming Miss Universe could mean making little sacrifices along the way. For Gabriel, it was to stop eating her favorite Filipino pastry, ensaymada, for months before the competition.
"When you want something that's so big, you have to really cut aside a lot of distractions and things that take up your mind physically and mentally so I always just try to focus," the beauty queen noted.
Gabriel also stressed the need to embrace their nationality.
"To be a Fil-Am is a unique and beautiful thing and definitely lean into that and embrace that," she said. "I didn't embrace it as much as I did now so I hope this inspires young girls that their uniqueness is beautiful and use that to your advantage that can open up a lot of doors for you, and always believe in yourself. Self doubt will keep you from achieving something greater than you even realize. I definitely went through that and when I eliminated that self doubt and had people in my world that really believed me and pushed me to achieve more than I ever imagined, it changed the world for me.”