Many know the story of Anne Frank, but few know the story of Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide the Franks and later found Anne's diary, preserving it so that it could be shared with the world. This spring, Disney+ and National Geographic will finally offer a window into Gies' heroism in A Small Light, an eight-episode limited series starring Bel Powley (The Morning Show) as Gies and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) as Otto Frank, Anne's father.
Set in the early 1940s, with the Germans rapidly advancing through Europe, A Small Light begins as Otto asks his 20-something secretary, Miep, to hide him and his family from the Nazis. For the next two years, Miep, her husband Jan (Joe Cole), and several other everyday heroes watched over the Franks as they hid in the secret annex in Amsterdam. When the Franks were arrested in 1944, Miep found her diary, and when Otto returned from the war, she helped him publish it, ensuring that the world would learn the truth about the Holocaust.
In a new featurette released during Disney's Television Critics Association 2023 Winter Press Tour on Friday, Powley, Schreiber, and the show's stars preview A Small Light, which, as creator Joan Rater explains, aims to "tell the story of the ordinary people who did these extraordinary things."
Powley reveals that A Small Light will also focus on Miep's marriage and her coming-of-age, both of which are exacerbated by the reality of their situation. "What you've got to remember is that these big, historical moments were going on, Miep's marriage problems weren't going to wait until the war was over," she says. "Experiencing growing from a girl to a woman wasn't going to wait until the war was over."
"It just felt like the right story at the right time," adds Schreiber. "To have a story that speaks so profoundly about compassion — the similarities with what it was like to be a young person back then, what it is like to be a young person now."
A Small Light will premiere in Spring 2023 on Disney+ and National Geographic.
Beyond A Small Light, Disney's upcoming lineup includes American Born Chinese (Spring 2023), a genre-hopping action comedy starring Michelle Yeoh and Ben Wang; The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder Season 2, which premieres February 1 on Disney+; and animated series Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, premiering February 10 on Disney Channel and February 15 on Disney+.
National Geographic also kicks off 2023 with an series of major premieres, including Restaurants at the End of the World (March 21), a travelogue starring Kristen Kish of Top Chef and Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend fame, and nature docuseries Secrets of the Elephants, premiering April 21 on Nat Geo and next-day on Disney+.
The network has also ordered Underdogs, an unconventional natural history series that will spotlight the undersung heroes of the natural world, from animals who rely on devious camouflage technique to survive to the flatulent and incontinent creatures that populate ecosystems around the world. Ryan Reynolds will co-produce the series under his Maximum Effort Banner with BAFTA-award winning company Wildstar Films (America the Beautiful).
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.
TOPICS: A Small Light, American Born Chinese, Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, Secrets of the Elephants, Bel Powley, Liev Schreiber, Television Critics Association 2023 Winter Press Tour