Voelkel was born in the United States, but raised in Canada. She was very involved in sports and school, being a part of a softball team for 9 years.
Just a month away from going to college, a modeling scout was coming to her town and she decided to try her luck. The scout picked her, and she went to New York to meet some agents, but none of them wanted her. As a last attempt, she went to Los Angeles where she was very much liked by several agents. She moved to Los Angeles to model, but, soon after, she joined an acting class recommended by an agent.
Voelkel's first big break into the industry came when she went to a film audition for the role of a club girl in The Social Network. After finishing the picture, she signed with an agent and booked her first lead in an independent film, The Secret Lives of Dorks, released in 2013. In 2012, she joined the HBO series The Newsroom only for the pilot episode, but later became the character of Jenny. In 2014, she has been cast as one of the leads in Point of Honor.
- She is the only American born actor/actress besides Devon Allowitz in the Original Mikaelson sibling clan (Not counting Vincent, Kaleb & Eva). Joseph Morgan (Klaus) is from Wales. Daniel Gillies (Elijah) is from Canada and a New Zealand transplant. Caspar Zafer (Original Finn) is from Ukraine. Both Claire Holt & Nathaniel Buzolic (Original Rebekah & Original Kol) are from Australia.
- Her character is the oldest of the Mikaelson siblings even though Riley is the youngest actress among (excluding Devon) them seeing as Claire is two years older than her.
- She played a younger Fiona Goode in American Horror Story: Coven, another series based in New Orleans.
- She was in Prom with Danielle Campbell even though their characters didn't interact at all.
- She was in Point of Honor with Nathan Parsons.
- Riley appears in more episodes than any other non-lead starring cast member during Season Three.