Tyler Oakley talks life, YouTube, and travel


Elyse Gregory

Oakland University welcomed Tyler Oakley and Korey Kuhl at the O’rena Wednesday night. Fans with Oakley’s book were able to get his autograph after the event. Check out our Facebook album for all the photos.

Tyler Oakley, YouTuber and LGBTQ+ activist, came to Oakland University on Oct. 5 to talk about his book “Binge” and answer questions about his life in the entertainment industry.

Oakley might have been made famous by YouTube, but he now partakes in numerous other endeavors including starting his own summer camp, hosting his own talk show with Ellen DeGeneres and writing “Binge.” In addition, he has participated in the reality TV shows “Catfish” and “The Amazing Race.”

“Middle-aged moms always come up to me, and I mean, that’s how you know me?” he said, in reference to his time on “Catfish.”

“But I was disappointed the guy who was catfishing me in the show was a real person,” he added.

Oakley took to the O’rena stage with Korey Kuhl, his college friend, former roommate and partner on “The Amazing Race.”

“I’m here to help moderate,” Kuhl said. “If we left Tyler alone for an hour and a half it’d never go anywhere.”

Prior to the lecture, Oakley joined student volunteers in walking around campus and helping students register to vote.

“Oakland University is very beautiful,” he said. He wore an OU shirt onstage, along with a keychain of The Grizz on his belt.

Advice on YouTube and college

Oakley never received formal training on how to be a YouTube personality. He shared in his lecture that he moved to San Francisco after college and got a job doing social media for a company.

“I felt like they didn’t trust me, even though I felt that I knew what I was doing,” he said.

He told the audience that he would go home and apply the techniques he wanted to try at work to his own social media.

“I just made videos about my life to keep in touch with friends,” he said.

Oakley explained that he has never made a viral video. Instead, he slowly grew a following.

“Five years into my time on YouTube, I decided to make it my full-time job,” he said.

Since then, more opportunities have opened up for him, like appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and starting his own talk show with her, writing his own book and going on a worldwide slumber party tour, complete with onesies.

When asked what advice he had for aspiring YouTube talent, he told the audience to never give up.

“I know that’s stupid and cliché,” he said. “It might take you forever to get where you want to go . . . but have fun. The people I watch, I watch because they’re having fun.”

He said all it takes to be a YouTuber is to upload one video.

“Just upload your first video. In a year, you’ll wish you would have started uploading sooner because your first video always sucks. My first video is privated.”

He was asked at one point during the lecture what advice he’d have for college freshman. Being a former resident assistant, he told freshmen to get involved.

“Do more things your RA tells you to do! You might meet some really cool people, and chances are your RA is telling you to go because it might be beneficial for you.”

Success of the event

Jean Ann Miller, director of the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, said that about 1,300 tickets were picked up for the event, which was more tickets than were distributed for the Laverne Cox speech last year.

“There’s a wide range of ages showing up,” Miller said.