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NeNe Leakes Announces Exit from ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’
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It's the end of an era. On Thursday, NeNe Leakes shared that she's leaving Bravo's The Real Housewives of Atlanta after she couldn't make a deal with the network to stay on. Shortly after the big news, Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen took to Instagram to praise her contribution to the franchise.
Leakes is an original RHOA cast member and had been with the show since it debuted in 2008, though she skipped season 9. In a heartfelt post, Cohen called her an "icon."
"Nene Leakes is an icon of the genre," he wrote, sharing personal pictures with her over the years. "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," he continued. 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. XO, Buttercup. #Bloop #LowDownMonkeyWithAWig #CloseYourLegsToMarriedMen #WeSeeEachOthah #ISaidWhatISaid #TrumpCheck #ByeWig #SoNastyAndSoRude #Buttercup."
Real Housewives of New York star Sonja Morgan also commented on Cohen's post, "I'll be seeing you for off screen. And for always. Love you lady."
Meanwhile, The Real Housewives of Potomac star Gizelle Bryant commented, "Oh wow ... this is sad."
Leakes announced her RHOA departure in a video on her YouTube channel.
"There's been a lot of emotions on both sides," she said of negotiations. "It's been hard and I have made a hard, difficult decision to not be part of Real Housewives of Atlanta season 13. It wasn't an easy decision for me. It was hard."
The 52-year-old reality star also proudly reflected back on her time on RHOA.
"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," she said. "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."
Following Leakes' announcement, Bravo released a statement noting that the door is always open for her to return to the show.
"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," the statement reads. "She's been instrumental since the start and will truly be missed, and maybe one day she'll hold the peach again."
When ET spoke with Leakes in May, she said that her future with RHOA was up in the air.
"Every year I quit, every year I don't know what I'm doing," she said. "So, will I walk away? I just don't know. You have to treat me like this is the house I built. I was the first one in this house and everybody feels threatened by my presence."