Akyols parents moved from Turkey to Germany in 1973 and settled in the Ruhr region in Herne. Akyol grew up in Herne, where she attended the Haranni-Gymnasium (high school). After her graduation in 1998 she studied international law and Eastern European history at the University of Cologne. Then she moved to Berlin to attend a journalism school and began working as a journalist. From 2006 to 2014 she worked for Berlin-based national German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, for which she often reported from abroad. In 2014 she accepted a temporary position the Deutsche Presse-Agentur offered in Istanbul. After the completion of her term she remained in Istanbul working as a freelance journalist and book author. In 2015 she published a book about Turkey in the 21st century, describing it as a conflicted split society and in 2016 she followed it up with an extensive biography of the Turkish politician and president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.