Exclusive: Audra McDonald to Exit Private Practice

It looks like Private Practice‘s Addison is going to be in the market for a new BFF.

In what is by all indications is a completely amicable split, Audra McDonald is leaving the Thursday-night ABC drama at the end of the season to be closer to her family (including 10-year-old daughter Zoe) in New York. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve seen the last of her Private Practice character, Naomi.

Huh? Allow me to explain.

Although the four-time Tony-winning powerhouse will be losing her series-regular status, there’s a very good chance she’ll be back in a guest-star capacity next season.

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“I have spent four amazing years working with the best cast and crew on television at Private Practice,” McDonald tells TVLine exclusively. “Though I am stepping away from the series as a regular in order to spend more time in New York with my family, I am not closing the door on Private Practice or the character, Naomi. I am beyond grateful to [series creator] Shonda Rhimes, ABC, and the team behind the show.”

Rhimes in turn says, “We are so appreciative of Audra and her talents and look forward to having her return to Private Practice as often as possible. Audra has been a bicoastal commuter throughout our four seasons on the air, and, ultimately, we respect and appreciate her desire to spend more time with family in New York.”

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McDonald’s departure shouldn’t come as a complete shock to fans. For the past two seasons, the actress’ presence on the show has been scaled back as producers strived to mitigate her hellish cross-country trek.

Thoughts? Are you sad to see Naomi go? How do you think her reduced presence will be accounted for? And do you care to guess which Broadway revival McDonald should headline next? Hit the comments!