In an emotional YouTube video (embedded above), Leakes shared that “an extremely, extremely long, exhausting, tiring, emotional negotiation” resulted in the “difficult” decision to exit the show after its 12th season.
“I started on The Real Housewives of Atlanta in 2008. We took off like a rocket,” she said. “You could have never told me that I would start on this little show and it would still be going strong 13, 14 years later. And it is. I’m just so happy that I can say that I was a part of a genre that opened up doors for Black ensemble reality shows to step up and be a part of what we all now love so much — reality TV.”
Leakes’ potential departure (and/or firing) from the show had been rumored for weeks. Back in June, Leakes’ manager, Steven Grossman, said in a statement that “it is absolutely not true that NeNe has been fired from RHOA,” adding that “it was made abundantly clear prior that she will always be welcome on the series as long as she wants to be.”
Leakes was part of RHOA‘s original cast when it debuted in 2008, then took a break after Season 7 to pursue roles on shows such as Glee and The New Normal. She later returned to the series in Season 10 and has been a full-time cast member since then.
Her castmate Eva Marcille previously announced in June that she was leaving The Real Housewives of Atlanta, while Denise Richards and Dorinda Medley are exiting The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of New York City, respectively.
Watch Leakes’ exit announcement in full above.