An icon has left the building.
Or, to be more specific, the franchise.
On Thursday evening, following many weeks of assumptions and speculation, NeNe Leakes announced that is done with The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
“I have been on an extremely, extremely long, exhausting, tiring, emotional negotiation,” the veteran reality star said to fans via her YouTube channel on Thursday.
“There’s been a lot of emotion flying from both sides. It has been hard, and I have made the very hard and very difficult decision to not be a part of Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 13.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for me. It was hard.”
Leakes proceeded to reminisce about her time on the program, which started with the show’s debut season way back in 2008.
She then took a break from the show during seasons eight and nine… only to return for Seasons ten through twelve.
“I’m just so happy that I can say that I was part of a genre that opened up a door for Black ensemble reality shows,” continued Leakes.
“I want to thank everybody that has looked up to me over the years. I want to thank Bravo for all the memories. Thank you to the cast for all of the memories.”
Back in June, rumors surfaced that NeNe had been fired by producers.
When it comes to the departures of Real Housewives, i’s never entirely clear whether they left of their own volition or weren’t invited back by executives.
Sometimes, both sides can be true: The contract of a cast member might run out and the star might choose to leave — or the higher-ups might choose NOT to sign the star to a new deal.
Or the two parties try and try and perhaps just cannot arrive at an agreed-upon salary.
In this case, Leakes told fans she has “no knowledge” of anyone on her team coming out several days ago and alleging she had quit the franchise.
“When something is this important and this near and dear to my heart, I always want to be the person to address you,” she told followers in this new video.
Leakes signed off with a tease that she may return one day soon to the small screen.
“I will see you again real soon,” she said, maybe hinting at a long-rumored spinoff.
“We wish NeNe all the best in her future endeavors and thank her for sharing her journey for over a decade with the fans of The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Bravo said today in a statement.
“She’s been instrumental since the start and will truly be missed, and maybe one day she’ll hold the peach again.”
NeNe’s departure from the long-running reality series comes as producers are allegedly on the lookout for younger cast members.
It was reported in July that Drew Sidora, 35, and YouTuber Latoya Ali, 33, were in the running to join the franchise.
Andy Cohen, meanwhile, posted the photo above in the wake of this news and wrote as a caption:
Nene Leakes is an icon of the genre. She is a gif and catchphrase machine.
In 11 years of #WWHL, Nene has been our most frequent guest, and she is always A BLAST.
Nene nicknamed me “Buttercup” the first day we met, and still calls me that today. Through her whole run, she has always had a serious concern and drive to maintain the success and well-being of #RHOA.
I am going to miss Nene on the show, but I’m hoping we work together again soon and will remain in each other’s orbits forever.
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