Angelina Jolie and new pal Medina Senghore are among the millions counting their blessings these days. With pandemic restrictions easing, they reflect on the past 14 months, thankful they—and most of all their families—survived.
"We're still surviving, aren't we Medina?" jokes Jolie, 45, in the new issue of PEOPLE on stands Friday. "I feel like we should ask all the kids, 'How'd we do during the pandemic?'"
"I think they would definitely give me a mixed mark," says Senghore. "If we're looking for silver linings, we've had to be more creative about how we entertain the kids. Mine are very young [Rayaan, 6, and Elyas, 3], so they need lots of outdoors and climbing. We did so much more hiking and so much more outdoor exploring than we had prior to COVID."
Jolie adds, "I've found that the kids have really come together. I have a big group, and with Maddox coming back from college and being in the same house, they've really had to manage this together. We've also all gotten very good at dark tag, this new thing that we do where we turn all the lights off and [chase each other]."
Angelina Jolie in Dior and Medina Senghore
Senghore and Jolie only met for the first time recently, while doing press for their new movie Those Who Wish Me Dead. Yet the two shared an instant bond, portraying strong women onscreen, and speaking up for women everywhere off it.
This is Jolie's first action film in a decade, and the mom of six says, "When we did finally talk, it was about women's strength and how what we often hear about strong women. Sometimes it's a compliment, but sometimes it's said when you're not wanting to address all that she needs. You say, 'Oh, she's so strong,' but you're also saying, 'Oh, she can handle the weight of the world on her shoulders.'"
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Senghore, has certainly handled a lot in her life. A rising star, she is a Harvard Law School graduate who pursued her dreams in her 30s, attending Julliard.
She says, "I know now that strength and the need for help live side by side. One of the things I'm thankful for is that the forced quiet of this time has taught me about that balance of strength and vulnerability, and has gotten me more in touch with when I need help and not experiencing that as a fault."
Emerson Miler/Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection Medina Senghore
In the movie, Jolie plays a smokejumper, the firefighters who leap into out-of-control wildfires, and Senghore a pregnant survivalist.
"Our characters, who are these survivalists, these smokejumpers—there are many real and extraordinary women who live like this and they're not superheroes," says Jolie.
"They're regular American women," the Oscar winner adds. "The other thing that was interesting to me was to play a frontline worker—I think we've all spent a lot of time thinking so much about those who are on the front lines of COVID and around the world."
Senghore adds, "One of the things that attracted me to it was the fact that my character is pregnant, and so it really just put me in the mind frame of women who are facing challenges and struggle and who find themselves in peril—getting a chance to embody that type of strength, that was very attractive."
Those Who Wish Me Dead launches on HBO Max and debuts in theaters on May 14.