After countless years of teasing leaving, NeNe Leakes has has announced her departure from ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta.’
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The shocking revelation came via Leakes herself, who told PEOPLE exclusively that she will not be returning for the hit show’s upcoming eighth season.
Wildly popular, the sassy reality star was the sole original left on the cast.
Explaining her decision to move on, the 47-year-old said in a statement:
“This was definitely a hard decision for me. Me and my husband [Gregg Leakes] have been going back and forth on it for weeks now. But my contract is up and I just think this is the right time. This is my opportunity to spread my wings and do different things.”
On her reasons for going:
“I feel a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. There were times when I was a target. I won’t miss the negativity.
I think some of the girls will be happy [I’m leaving]. They always felt like I was the star, and they were never able to really shine with me there, so here’s their opportunity to shine.
[They get too comfortable, though] I’m not saying I’m gone forever. I’ll probably pop up and play with those girls every now and then.”
Never one to rest on her laurels, Leakes is looking firmly forward. She went on tease her forthcoming projects:
“I’m actually going to be doing a new primetime television show with a big legend. All of my fans will get to see me be really happy, witty and funny and tell all of those one liners that I always have said on Housewives.”
For years, NeNe has talked a good game about walking away and, after seeing her back each season, it felt more like she was saying so as a contract negotiation play than a serious threat. Needless to say, we’re shocked she legit went through with it this time around.
Her next move will be uber interesting, as will the shape and tone of the ‘Real Housewives’ when it returns this Fall.