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A Heart to Inspire

YouTube Star Tyler Oakley and the 'Ripple Effect'

Tyler Oakley speaks at UAlbany March 27. (Photos by Brian Busher) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 3, 2018) — Social media expert, author, political activist, YouTube royalty, best friend to Ellen DeGeneres — Tyler Oakley has a lot to be proud of. And beyond his hilarious comedy and charming manner is a man with a heart to inspire, a heart to make great change.

“Sometimes the smallest changes that only we perceive as small can have the ripple effects that we don’t even imagine or dream,” Oakley told Today at UAlbany prior to his Speaker Series engagement on Tuesday, March 27.

“What I love most is coming to schools with the young people that are — especially now in the political climate and in the cultural climate — activated but unsure, maybe, of how to get involved,” he said. “They want to do something, they want to make a change, they want to make a difference but sometimes it might feel like, ‘How do I even begin?’”

Oakley, who now has over 7.8 million subscribers on YouTube, got his start on the video platform 10 years ago. What began as a means to stay connected with friends and family, as well as having an outlet to express his authentic, exuberant self, became an incredibly powerful platform.


Oakley speaks with reporter and student intern Gianluca Russo, right, prior to his Speakers Series event. 

Over the past 10 years the 29-year-old’s focus has changed. Videos on his current obsessions has transformed into content aimed to inspire social and political change among his audience. Topics include LGBT rights, suicide prevention, healthcare and education. He says he wants to inform all young people, no matter their age, race, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity, that change is always possible.

“The people on your Facebook notice what you post and what you don’t post. So when you’re silent about things, that says just as much as when you’re speaking out about things. And when you don’t stand up for certain causes, that says just as much as when you do. So be conscious of what you do and don’t say,” he said.

In addition to his politically charged content, Oakley says he still loves creating fun, exhilarating videos, something that comes naturally due to his comedic manner (he had the audience cracking up for his hour-long talk).

But past the laughs, Oakley hoped to leave students feeling inspired and prepared to stand up, stand brave, and stand strong.

“You don’t have to change the entire world in one moment. You never know who is going to listen to your story when you’re sharing your authentic self. You never know who is going to be inspired by that.”

— Story by OCM Intern Gianluca Russo


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