Q&A With Tyler Oakley: The YouTube Star Whose Fans Raised $500K For His Birthday

Meet Tyler Oakley. His “YouTube family” (subscribers) grew by over 3 million last year and today stands at 4,324,655—a following that rivals top entertainers on the platform. His vlog posts are deceptively simple, filmed in the same colorfully decorated room, spotlight on, and Oakley ready to share whatever is on his mind. But watch him tell one story and it’s clear that he has tapped into Millennial tastes with his personal storytelling style. Always charged with intense positive energy, Tyler reveals intimate details, and can talk non-stop without missing a beat. He claims to be fluent in five languages: “English, emoji, sexting, sarcasm, and sass” and has gossiped with President Obama himself. While his best friends include the elite of Millennial YouTube entertainment, the magic in Tyler’s videos lies in his ability to make every viewer feel like they too are his best friend.
 
Wanting to use his influence as a high-profile LGBT vlogger for something more, Tyler began a birthday fundraising campaign last year benefitting a charity close to his heart: The Trevor Project. This year, the campaign reached its goal of raising $150,000 in just six days. By the end of the full 50 days of fundraising, Tyler’s online “family” had raised over half a million dollars—$525,679 to be exact— for LGBTQ youth. We got the chance to speak with Tyler about his monumental rise on YouTube, the success of his birthday campaign, and how views on the LGBT movement are changing within the next generation.

Ypulse: Tell us about how you got started on YouTube.

Tyler Oakley: It was back in 2007 and I was a college student at Michigan State University. All of my high school friends went off to different colleges, so I wanted to find a new way to keep in touch with them. I had Facebook, but I also wanted…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I learned to cook through ship to home meals like Blue Apron.” –Male, 24, IL

Some Millennial guys are embracing going gray—way ahead of time. Silver fox hair has joined man buns and merman hair as one of the fads they’re using to express themselves and stand out in the crowd. Though clearly not a widespread trend, Amazon has seen gray hair dye searches increase by threefold in the last year and some celebrities are showing of their silver dos on social media. One stylist tells the Times it isn’t about the natural look: “The demographic of guys who come to me to go gray are doing it more as a fashion statement.” (The New York TimesGothamist

Luxury fashion brands have been targeting teens through Snapchat, which is prompting some to ask if they’re ignoring their core market. Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry have all had recent campaigns on the platform using teen influencers like Kendall Jenner and Brooklyn Beckham. Although the promotions might miss the mark with their traditional older consumers, as well as most older Millennials, the goal is likely to influence today’s more practical young consumers to buy (or ask their parents to buy) entry-level luxury items. One analyst says that “online as a whole now influences over 60% of [luxury] purchases.” (Forbes

Taco Bell wants to be Millennials’ favorite. Despite benefiting from Chipotle’s E.coli breakout and seeing sales rise 4% last quarter, the brand is still looking to make significant changes and continue to improve their image. New menu items like the Doritos Locos and Waffle Tacos were a hit with 18-35-year-olds, and next they’re adding cage-free eggs. Fast-casual is a threat to fast food titans, but Millennials’ craving for cheap eats isn’t going away—McDonald’s is still the most visited restaurant among 20 and 30-year-olds, thanks in part to their value menu. (Business Insider

The struggle is real for Millennials, and the upcoming movie Get a Job is bringing their employment and financial problems to the big screen. The story starts off with two optimistic, bright-eyed college graduates who are in love and ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, they soon face the challenges of a tough economy with layoffs and downsizing. While they alternately lose jobs and tell each other to “step up,” they attempt to make rent, deal with debilitating student loans, and enjoy being young.  (Entertainment Weekly

YouTube is ready to be the next Netflix. YouTube Red, their $9.99 monthly subscription service, is premiering their first original shows next week, and will launch between 15-20 new ad-free shows in 2016, some featuring popular YouTube stars. The platform plans to attain success with cheaper productions, unlike Netflix’s big budget shows, and is going after the younger viewers that grew up idolizing social media stars. With YouTube focusing on the fans, networks are expecting the influencers to help the platform take-off: “There’s a reason why [millions] of people are watching them and it’s not just because it’s free.” (Los Angeles Times

“The issue I am most passionate about is the economy, because wealth disparity is killing the American dream.” –Male, 27, TX

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