NeNe Leakes quits ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’

Shonda McClain | 7/1/2015, 3:40 p.m.
NeNe Leakes has left the building – “bloop.”
NeNe Leakes

NeNe Leakes has left the building – “bloop.”

“Real Housewives of Atlanta” fans were shocked on Monday when Leakes announced, via Twitter, she would not be returning for season eight of the popular reality series. “This is so hard for me to type! I cry as I do so! After seven seasons I have decided not to return to #RHOA,” she wrote.

Leakes, 47, the show’s remaining original cast member, told People magazine, “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.”

But, she added, she’ll “probably pop up and play with those girls every now and then.”

Leakes , who courted controversy on the show and famously feuded with her former BFFs Kim Zolciak and Cynthia Bailey, said she is relieved to be leaving the drama behind and has a new television project in the works 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,'” Leakes told People.

The executives at Bravo issued a statement supporting Leakes’ decision to move on: “We wish NeNe well after seven memorable seasons of the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta.’ We will miss her bloop bloop’s and her great one liners. We look forward to the eighth season of the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ in the fall.”

Andy Cohen, executive producer of the “Real Housewives” franchise, Tweeted: “We love @NeNeLeakes & she is always welcome back to the house she helped build! She's a Real Housewife forever!!”

Leakes, who joined the cast of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” eight years ago, has parlayed her reality TV stardom into appearances on “Glee,” “The New Normal,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” She made her Broadway debut last fall in “Cinderella” opposite Keke Palmer and has launched a clothing line on HSN.

Follow me on Twitter @ShondaMcClain.