Actress Katie Holmes says she refuses to be labeled solely as one of Tom Cruise's ex-wives.

"I don't want that moment in my life to define me, to be who I am," she tells People magazine in its new issue, being published Friday. "I don't want that to be what I'm known as. I was an actor before, an actor during and an actor now . . . I feel ready for new challenges."

Holmes, 35 -- remembered for her long-running role as Joey Potter on "Dawson's Creek" and whose career ranges from independent-film stardom (2003's "Pieces of April") to co-starring in "Batman Begins" (2005) -- suggests her life has become easier in the wake of her 2006 to 2012 marriage to Cruise. "I don't have any fear now, I don't have a lot of rules for myself, and I don't take myself that seriously," she says.

She says the couple's daughter, 8-year-old Suri, "means everything to me," adding, "I'm learning every day, and I have been since the minute I became a mom."

Part of that, she says, involves patience and politeness. "My patience has grown, but between 4 and 6 p.m. . . . I mean, wow. Between tickle fights and glitter art, I try to throw in some manners along the way."

Around the time she filed for divorce in June 2012, Holmes began leasing a condominium apartment in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and was often seen on outings with Suri. "When I got to New York City, the amount of support I got from strangers . . . it makes me cry," she told People.

Holmes has since returned to California: In August, reported that she and Suri had moved to Calabasas, outside Los Angeles, where Holmes bought a $3.795 million, 6,000-square-foot home in the section The Oaks.