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Queen Latifah on Craig Zadan: ‘Before Inclusion Was a Talking Point, Craig Always Broke Barriers’

Craig Zadan
Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

My heart is absolutely broken. I loved Craig.

It is so rare that someone with such immeasurable talent also has such an incredible soul. For everything he accomplished, there was no ego, no pretense — just complete passion and positive energy.

I have collaborated with a number of different people over the years, but my friendship and work relationship with Craig spanned over decades. We collaborated with one on another on “Chicago,” “Hairspray,” “Steel Magnolias” and “The Wiz,” not to mention the Emmy-nominated “Flint” project. He always had such an incredible and precise view of what he wanted but at the same time was so synergistic.

Before diversity and inclusion was a talking point, Craig (along with Neil Meron) always broke the barriers and made room for everyone. His vision had no boundaries. He was so supportive of me from the first time he and Neil and Rob [Marshall] cast me in “Chicago” — we were instant friends and his loyalty to me and my partner Shakim [Compere] never faded. In fact it’s not often you work for someone as an actor and go on to collaborate as producing partners, but we did.

His love of music and theater was contagious and the way he could bring that zest across pretty much any medium was mind-blowing. He left no stone unturned. He successfully entertained on Broadway, on film and on television. That kind of talent is rare.

I can say in a business with a lot of disappointing people, Craig had never ever let me down. I will miss him so much.

Queen Latifah most recently worked with Zadan on Lifetime’s “Flint,” which has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards.