Hightown Season 2: Riley Voelkel spills on Renee’s new journey this season

Hightown Season 2 - Courtesy of STARZ/Dana Hawley
Hightown Season 2 - Courtesy of STARZ/Dana Hawley /

Show Snob spoke with Hightown Season 2 star Riley Voelkel about Renee’s elevated status in the show’s new season and lots more!

WARNING: There are spoilers regarding the premiere of Hightown Season 2, don’t read until you’ve watched the new episode!

Hightown has finally returned, and we were able to chat with Voelkel about her scene-stealing turn as Renee on the crime drama. Like many other characters on the show, Renee’s storyline goes to crazy new places this season that will be exciting to fans. Now that Frankie is out of jail, Renee is living the high life and has been promoted to a manager status at Xavier’s. She’s no longer a dancer.

While talking to Riley, she revealed some fun teases for the season to get fans more excited and answered several of our most pressing questions!

Show Snob interview with Hightown Season 2 star Riley Voelkel

SHOW SNOB: What was your first reaction to seeing Renee’s character arc this season?

RILEY VOELKEL: I was super, super excited about it. I loved the character from the moment I read it on the page Season 1, and then to get this incredible arc in Season 2 is just super exciting. She’s no longer a pawn in the game, she’s a game player, and that’s been really fun.

light. More. Hightown Season 2 chat with Atkins Estimond & Dohn Norwood

SHOW SNOB: One of the significant parts of this season is her relationship with the new character Jorge. They have that “frenemies” relationship, a tentative bond. What was it like to act alongside him?

RILEY: Well, first of all, Luis Guzmán is incredible, he’s infallible, everything he does works, and he’s been a dream to work with and so so funny. Renee and Jorge are not the biggest fans of each other, and there is obviously a past there.

Renee kind of looks at it like she’s come this far. She’s moving up, and in comes Jorge, and she doesn’t like him getting involved, especially when it’s over her. Not to mention, I think she’s kind of aware of the fact he tries to sew distrust between Renee and Frankie and just brings a whole new level of chaos to the scene.

Hightown Season 2
Hightown Season 2, Episode 1 – Courtesy of STARZ/Dana Hawley /

SHOW SNOB: Speaking of Renee and Frankie, one of the things I like about their relationship is that it’s not like Frankie is just a stereotypical bad guy. You can see why Renee fell in love with him.

RILEY: I’m glad you see that because I think Renee is in a tough position. She met Frankie at a young age. She’s an ex-addict. He picked her up and gave her a life, not to mention, is the father of her child. He gave her a son, which is her top priority. She doesn’t really know life without him. I think as much as she still questions her decision in choosing Frankie and wonders what a better life would be, she’s also very fearful of him and fearful of a life without him at the same time.

SHOW SNOB: I read in another interview you did that you did a lot of intense training for the pole-dancing scenes in Season 1. Does any part of you miss getting to do that, or are you glad you’re not doing that this season?

RILEY: I do miss it! I never thought I would say that. I do! It was definitely a huge challenge. Like I’ve said before, I had zero dance training, couldn’t touch my toes, booked this role and ended up having to get so much training. But it ended up being such an empowering experience.

The women who taught me were incredible. It was this challenge I felt I was able to conquer. There is a part of me that misses it. I did buy a pole for my house so that I could keep doing it because it’s a great workout.

SHOW SNOB: It’s hard. It’s very hard.

RILEY: It’s so hard. I have so much respect for the girls who are actually good at it. But it’s a great workout, and it brings out a side I didn’t know I had!

SHOW SNOB: It’s funny because STARZ has the other show, P-Valley. I don’t know if you’ve watched it.


SHOW SNOB: But it’d be so cool if there was a little crossover or something.

RILEY: Right! A little bit! I know, that show is all about the dancing, and they are just so incredible. I watch in awe of all of them, honestly.

Hightown Season 2
Riley Voelkel in Hightown Season 2 – Courtesy of STARZ/Dana Hawley /

SHOW SNOB: Will we get to see more of Renee and Jackie together this season? I love seeing you guys share scenes!

RILEY: I know, me too, just because I love Monica so so much. And I do like Jackie and Renee together. You will get a little bit more of that. Also, just through the fact that all of the characters’ lives are so intertwined, they’re always involved with each other, whether they’re in front of each other or not.

SHOW SNOB: Regarding Ray, do you think Renee’s feelings for him were legitimate in Season 1?

RILEY: It’s a tricky relationship, that one. We find Renee betraying him in the end and setting him up ultimately because she doesn’t trust him. It’s a relationship that was built on secrets. They both had separate agendas. They both quickly realized they couldn’t trust each other.

I think he represents that other life, or a better life, a normal life, maybe, that she really wants, and a part of her is dealing with her feelings about him. I think, for him, it’s the same. Whether or not they’re good for each other is still to be seen. I do think the feelings were real but built on a relationship of secrets—so, tricky.

More. Hightown Season 2 interview with EP Gary Lennon. light

SHOW SNOB: There are so many compelling characters and relationships dynamics on this show.

RILEY: Right? Who’s playing who?

SHOW SNOB: And I like how you said before that Renee has become a player this season because I’ve really enjoyed watching her arc and her introduction in the first episode where she’s on top of the world.

RILEY: She’s on top now. She’s not dancing anymore!

SHOW SNOB: It might be silly to mention, but I love all of Renee’s outfits.

RILEY: Never silly to mention, by the way.

SHOW SNOB: Especially the ones she’s got this season! I get fashion envy.

RILEY: Totally. They did such an incredible job, Anne [Bryant] was excellent. Every outfit I wanted to take home with me. It was so fun to play dress-up in that way.

Hightown Season 2
Hightown Season 2, Episode 1 – Courtesy of STARZ/Dana Hawley /

SHOW SNOB: She’s always dressed to the nines in almost every episode.

RILEY: Yes, she’s dressing for the part.

SHOW SNOB: Another character introduced this season is Daisy. What can you tell me about Daisy and Renee’s dynamic?

RILEY: Joan [Xiao] is incredible, loved working with her, and I think Renee sees part of herself in Daisy, and is in some ways, protective of her, but is ultimately her boss. She is also dealing with running a business, which has become part of Renee’s priorities. The biggest part is that she sees herself in Daisy and feels for her in the situations she gets herself into and wants to protect her, but how much she can is to be seen.

SHOW SNOB: What are you most excited for fans to see from this season?

RILEY: We introduce new amazing characters, so I’m very excited for fans to see them. You see sides of characters you haven’t seen before, and I think it’s more epic and more shocking than Season 1 was. It’s a hell of a ride, and they will be going through every emotion and on the edge of their seats. I can’t wait for them to see it.

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Hightown Season 2 airs new episodes Sunday nights at 9/8c on STARZ.