Ashley Brooke Reveals ‘A Small Light’ Shows ‘How Important It Is To Be A Light For Others’ (Exclusive)

Ashley Brooke stars as Margot Frank in the riveting limited series 'A Small Light.' She reveals how she 'fell in love' with Margot's quirks, why Miep Gies' story is still 'relevant' today, and more.

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Image Credit: National Geographic

A Small Light follows the true story of Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide Otto Frank and his family from the Nazis during WWII. Ashley Brooke stars as Margot Frank, the eldest daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Ashley about diving into Margot Frank’s world.

“Part of my research was starting from ground zero. I tried to find as much as possible. I reread Anne’s diary. I think part of the reason why I didn’t remember much about Margot is because as time passes on, you start to forget certain things, which I think is why a project like this is so important to keep reminding us of history and what has happened,” Ashley said. “But for my research, I first read my Miep’s account, Anne Frank Remembered, because I knew that was the perspective we were taking. Then I read the diary again, and I honestly just fell in love with Margot, and I fell in love with her little quirks. She’s pretty much the opposite of Anna’s personality, and she was more quiet and reserved. She always wanted to follow the rules, and I think it’s really interesting that when they were breaking the law and going into hiding, she was called to report to a German concentration camp. I think it was really scary for her, especially as a 16-year-old girl.”

Ashley Brooke
Ashley Brooke as Margot Frank. (National Geographic)

Margot’s deportation order from the Gestapo was the catalyst for the Frank family going into hiding. With Miep’s help, the Frank family began living in a secret annex above Otto’s business. “I think that Tony [Phelan] and Joan [Rater] do a great job at portraying Margot as a normal 16-year-old girl that has fights with her sister, but is also in such a fearful time. I think when I first read the scripts, you could really tell how relatable these characters felt and how much you could connect to them. I think over the course of this series, you do get to see that normal 16-year-old girl side but then also being a Jew in the Holocaust and how scary and how depressed they were.”

Ashley noted that Mark Holmes, the set designer of A Small Light, did an “incredible job at recreating the annex feel. He has put so much detail into it that it was literally a set replica of when we visited the Anne Frank Museum but just built in Prague. I think that helped to step into that claustrophobic feel. I remember when I was in the museum, we had someone walking up above us just one person, but you could hear their footsteps so loudly. It just made me think how quiet they really had to be. But also how Miep, when she visited them, was the only time that they could really vent.”

She continued, “Miep was kind of this hope and bringing that light into them saying it’s all going to be okay. I think the relationship between Miep and the family is really special in that she really was that beam of hope from the outside to everyone when she would tell a story, and I think that everyone would just be kind of wrapped because she that light for everyone.”

A Small Light is being released at an important time as extremists are attempting to amplify Holocaust deniers and states like Florida are pulling content about Anne Frank from schools. Ashley revealed that she hopes the show encourages people to stand up for what’s right.

Ashley brooke
Ashley Brooke at the premiere for ‘A Small Light.’ (Anthony Behar/PictureGroup for National Geographic/Shutterstock)

“I think that Miep was a modern woman in a non-modern world, and she was going through things that we all feel are relatable. She was falling in love. She was having problems with friends and family. She’s so relatable that we can all see a little bit of ourselves in her. She was fearless, and she chose justice in the right path, even in the face of all the fear,” Ashley told HollywoodLife. “That is so inspiring to me. I also think it’s so relevant today because, unfortunately, we’re dealing with a lot of hatred towards certain groups of people. The patterns of history can always start repeating itself, and that’s so unfortunate.”

She added, “Also, Anne’s diary is being pulled from some schools in the United States, which is awful. We are the last generation of Holocaust survivors, so we do need to find new ways of telling Holocaust stories. I think there’s nothing like A Small Light. I think that the story is so relevant, especially as young adults because you want to stand up for what’s right, even if it scares us. I think we are going to continue to stand up, and I think we’re going to continue to support others. But it’s projects like these that show how important it is to be a light for others.”

Ashley is currently pulling double duty acting and studying film at the University of Southern California. The actress explained how she got the role as she trying to decide about college. “This role came at a very interesting time because it was college decision month. I did a network test for this project right in the middle of that month, and we had told them that I needed to know in a certain amount of time to tell universities. It was really amazing because after I did the network test, I found out the next day that I got it. It was great, but then we had to also deal with how can I do this while also trying to go to school. We ended up working it out, and I deferred my enrollment a semester so that I could film this project. It was definitely a crazy time. I remember it being also nerve-wracking,” she said. A Small Light premieres May 1 on National Geographic.