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…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “The best way for brands to interact with my fandom is by watching the series itself and making references only true fans would know.”—Male, 24, CA

There’s a new rosé for the Millennial bro—a "brosé" if you will. Mangrove Estates’s The Drop, named after the surfer term for breaking waves, comes, of course, in a can, and sports the tagline "Quality grapage, no breakage." The brand designed the product with Millennials in mind: "We wanted a tagline that would sum up the way this brand behaves, not just as a wine but in life, embracing all the good stuff and none of the compromise, exactly what Millennials expect." The Drop will be available for bros to drink this summer. (Adweek

Daaaaamn Ellen! Ellen DeGeneres is expanding her empire to include her own digital network with original programming. The Ellen Digital Network will create content across multiple platforms and collaborate with YouTube celebrity Tyler Oakley, and the two teens from the viral “Damn Daniel” video. It will also star Brielle, a four-year-old viral sensation, and include the best user-generated content from EllenTube. DeGeneres is already a digital powerhouse, with more than 1.1 billion total cross-platform views, and averaging 300 million views monthly on YouTube. (Mashable

The rise of “home-tainment,” is encouraging Millennials to skip the bars and stay in to drink. A recent survey from wine app Vivino found that 47% of Millennials would rather drink wine at home than at social gatherings, restaurants, or wineries—and with access to online streaming, food delivery, and dating apps from the comfort of their couches, why wouldn’t they? Another factor to the growth of home socializing may be their wallets: almost six out of 10 Millennials say that cost outweighs all other influences when deciding what to drink. (Business Insider

Hulu has a new competitor in its sights: cable. At the NewFronts, the streaming service announced they’re focusing in on the 70% of Hulu users that watch their service on smart and connected TV devices by providing more premium content and children’s programming. But the big news is that they’ll be going head to head with cable by 2017, offering live sports, event coverage, and news programming for the first time. Hulu’s subscriber count grew by 33% last year, and our latestmedia tracker revealed that 28% of 13-33-year-olds are using Hulu to watch video content weekly or more often. (Kidscreen

We recently noted that VR has the potential to impact many more industries beyond gaming, including entertainment, and live concerts are next to get the VR treatment. Live Nation has scored a deal with NextVR to broadcast hundreds of future concerts, from “intimate performances to very large music festivals,” through VR headsets. Although it will lack the ambiance of crowds, the technology will allow participants to feel as if they were in the front row and truly experiencing the music. For now, the experiences will be limited to free events, but eventually they hope it will be pay-per-view. (Re/code

Quote of the Day: “Whenever I'm bored, I can always find something to do on my phone.”

—Male, 17, GA

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies