Back in 1976, a baby girl named Oh was born into the family of a famous architect and respected professor and his wife. That spunky little thing managed to grow up unharmed despite running around with two older brothers and three cousins in a 3 custom-built town home in the middle of Bangkok.
At 12, Oh was selected as a part of a delegation of 2 boys, 2 girls and one 21-year-old chaperon to represent Thailand at Children International Summer Village (CISV) Hands Around the World in Melbourne, Australia. For one glorious month, she learned about peace and friendship with children from all over the world and formed a life long friendship with many of them. That was a beginning of the rest of her life as a “cultural representative” wherever she goes.
Oh’s parents continued to send her traveling on her own for language immersion programs all over the world. Auckland, New Zealand, at 13 with a group for 4 weeks. Bournemouth, England, at 14 with younger cousin Nancy and a family friend for 6 weeks. And then Whittier, California, at 15, by herself for 2 months.
It was here in California where Oh was presented with the name Oakley and found where she truly belongs.
Coming to the USA
Oakley returned to Thailand determined to continue her education in the U.S. like her brothers before her. Her principal at Mater Dei School was not all that surprised when she and her mom turned up to request transfer papers.
“You’ve always been too westernized for your own good here,” the principal said. “It’s time for you to go to America and really shine.”
Considered all the times Oakley ended up in her office for being “too outspoken,” the principal was right. But you wouldn’t know that about her when she first got to Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Oakley entered 11th grade a meek Asian girl transferred in from Thailand, the only international student there at the time who would eventually become the first ever to have graduated from the school. Naturally, she kept to herself and was seen as “shy.” She soon grew into her quirky self, participating in handbell choir, intermediate women’s choir, drama performances, and even performing traditional Thai dance at the talent show.
Oakley entered University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications with Cinema-Television minor aiming to come out an ad man. Creative director was the destination but the journey took her from trying out for all-male Yell Leader team for the hell of it to running Thai Students Association, from shooting and editing Super 8 films to performing original songs for her independent study class, and from part-time job filing paperwork to Warner Bros. Studios internship. Even with all of that, Oakley graduated one semester early and embarked on one year of real life work experience in the U.S.
Dot Com: A Love Story
As fate would have it, Oakley landed a receptionist job at HSX – Hollywood Stock Exchange, where she worked everyday with all of her true passions–movies, pop culture, and the internet. When she decided to return to USC Annenberg Communications Management graduate program, the company kept her on as their part-time coordinator, doing research and interacting with their “traders”–what you now would call a community manager.
Somewhere between graduate school and work at HSX, Oakley found time to ask out the company’s systems administrator, Brandon. A year and half later, after both of them had left the company, Brandon got down on one knee to ask her to marry him outside the old office in Santa Monica where they first met.
In January 2002, Oakley completed graduate school and got married in a hybrid of Thai and American traditions.
Oakley started her career with a stint at a political public relations firm in Long Beach before anchoring at a nonprofit organization in Downtown Los Angeles for the next 6 years. In 2011, she too a leap of professional faith to explore new career path and opportunities. It took her two years, three ad agencies, and one ad collaborative before she found her new home at Frieda’s Specialty Produce where she creates social media and video content, tests recipes, and continues to build community online and off.
Oakley and Brandon just bought a house in Los Alamitos, California, in August 2016.