Interview: Bel Powley on Finding a Balance of Tragedy and Comedy in ‘A Small Light’

In the new National Geographic limited series A Small Light, the famous story of The Diary of Anne Frank gets told from a new perspective centered on Miep Gies (Bel Powley), who worked as a secretary to Anne’s father Otto (Liev Schreiber) and hid his family to keep them from being taken by the Nazis.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Powley about what she knew about this story going in and what made being a part of it so appealing:

“I had obviously read Anne Frank’s diary when I was younger in school, and I knew about this part of history. I’m Jewish myself, so I have a connection to this part of history. But I didn’t know anything about Miep. Or Jan. Or the Dutch resistance. I learned a hell of a lot making this show…What’s so great about Tony and Joan’s retelling of this part of history is that it just feels incredibly relatable. I think that having Miep be the center of the story that we all know very well is a really good way to make people feel connected to it, because she really was an everywoman.”

She also praised the series’ focus on the dynamic between Miep and her husband Jan (Joe Cole):

“The Jan and Miep relationship for me, making this show, was like my home base. As much as this show is about the historical-political landscape that we all know too well, it was also for me a show about marriage and coming of age. Those things I could really relate to, and I hope other people do as well. I was so lucky to have Joe as my partner on that. We have very similar processes. We’re very much like, let’s get up and get on with it and feel the scene out as we go. That made it all the more natural and fluid, and that’s why the chemistry worked so well on screen, because we were really bouncing off each other very well.”

Watch the full conversation below.

The first two episodes of A Small Light premiered Monday, May 1st at 9pm on National Geographic. New episodes debut every Monday and will stream the next day on Disney+.


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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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