Tom Cruise also praises the Madagascar star, saying she "just has such class"

By Alexis Chiu
November 15, 2008 11:50 AM
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic, Andreas Branch/Sipa

Katie Holmes knows a thing or two about juggling a movie career, motherhood, and marriage to a superstar. So who does she consider a role model?

“Jada is so strong,” Holmes tells PEOPLE of her friend Jada Pinkett Smith, 37. “She is a rare woman – a phenomenal friend, mother, wife. She inspires me.”

Adds her husband, Tom Cruise: “Jada tells it like it is. She creates art in her life … She’s effortless. She just has such class.”

Pinkett Smith, who once described Holmes, 29, as a tigress who “runs the show” at home, says the two families are close because they “have a real understanding. In what we do and where we are, there aren’t many people you meet who are living on a parallel line … who can understand the pressures.”

Cruise, 46, also admires the way Pinkett Smith attends to her busy career (she s currently the voice of Gloria the hippo in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, in which her daughter Willow, 8, plays the junior version of the sassy pachyderm) and still makes her husband of nearly 11 years, Will Smith, 40, and their children her No. 1 priority.

“She is an extraordinary woman and an amazing mother,” he says. “She’s constantly wanting to improve herself and her family.” Agrees Holmes: “She’s just a powerhouse.”

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