(Aubree Stamper/MJ)


YouTube sensation and Michigan’s own Tyler Oakley gave a lecture to fans and students at Oakland University last Wednesday evening as the first stop in a three-city college tour to urge young people to use their voice and get registered to vote.

Oakley used his witty and bubbly personality to convey many thought-provoking ideas to his young audience, especially urging them to vote in the upcoming national and local elections. “Who here is 18 or above and eligible to vote?” Oakley asked as most of the room raised their hands, “Look at all these beautiful people who have the power to change the world, and if you don’t do it, what a missed chance to have your voice be heard.”

(Aubree Stamper/MJ)
(Aubree Stamper/MJ)

Oakley began on YouTube in 2007 and has garnered 8.1 million subscribers, as well as 5.4 million Twitter followers and 6.7 million Instagram followers. He is a social rights and LGBTQ+ advocate and is described as having “one of the loudest voices on YouTube.”

With such a large social media influence, Oakley uses his power to educate and help young people on topics such as LGBT rights, suicide prevention and other social issues. On Wednesday the YouTube superstar walked around campus prior to the talk, taking selfies with fans and registering students to vote. A group of volunteers were also registering people during and after the talk.

Oakley had his audience roaring with laughter as he told humorous stories like about his mother’s annoying dog named Chloe (pronounced Chlo-ay with an accent on the ‘e’), to his tendency of totaling his cars while traveling to “make out with cute boys,” and even flirting with a waiter in Mexico while filming for The Amazing Race. “I thought he was the one,” he joked.

While answering fans’ questions, Oakley gave simple advice to the aspiring content creators. He said to just make your first video and upload it, because there’s no threshold one has to pass to be labeled a “YouTuber.” More advice he gave is to have fun and never give up.

“I know that’s stupid and cliché,” he said, “but it might take you forever to reach whatever your goal might be.”

When asked for advice on moving out of state, Oakley told the audience, “It’s easier than you think, [even though] it feels like a big thing.” He went on to say, “The world is so doable, it’s not impossible to leave or get out there.” He also added that once you leave, you realize how great Michigan really is.

The star, who now has his own interview series on The Ellen Show’s YouTube channel, made his first YouTube video in his MSU dorm back in 2007 as a way to keep his friends and family in Jackson up-to-date on his life. From then on, his channel grew steadily before he finally moved to San Francisco in 2011 after graduation.

Oakley spoke about how he never had a video that went viral and shot him into internet stardom, but instead he built up a strong following over time, which he says is the best way for it to happen. After moving to California, he began getting huge opportunities to do things like interview celebrities, write a book, join shows like The Amazing Race and Catfish, and hold a 29-city world tour.

Since he started making videos, he’s made many accomplishments, including winning two Teen Choice awards and gaining over 544 million views on his outspoken and sassy videos.

Throughout the talk Oakley was rarely serious as he spoke about his life. He found himself veering off topic while telling vibrant stories of his adventures and “Wait, what was I talking about again?” basically became his catchphrase for the night. A question about a habit he has that he’s proud of but that annoys others ended up in him and Chris Thompson, his friend and co-host, reenacting a scene from The Sixth Sense which became an inside joke for the rest of the night.

He did get serious though when telling young people to vote, not only in national elections, but local elections this year. “Michigan really needs to hear from you,” he said, “Local politics matter and you have a lot more power than I think you realize.”

After the lecture, he made a Vine with the audience then held a signing for his book titled “Binge.” Oakley, along with many others, have loud voices online and a prominent presence on social media which gives them the power to easily influence young people, and in Oakley’s case, educate them on important matters the best he can.