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NeNe Leakes Leaving Real Housewives of Atlanta

What's her next project?

Liz Raftery

NeNe Leakes is leaving the show that made her a household name.

Leakes, 48, is following in the footsteps of her co-star/nemesis Claudia Jordan and exiting The Real Housewives of Atlanta ahead of Season 8, Peoplereports. "This was definitely a hard decision for me," Leakes tells People. "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 her exit likely won't be a permanent one. Leakes tells People she'll "probably pop up and play with those girls every now and then," and Andy Cohen also indicated that she'll likely make guest appearances down the road.

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Leakes has been with the show since its first season. Though she hasn't revealed specifics about what she'll do next, she tells People that this week, she'll begin filming "a new prime-time television show 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 have always said on Housewives." She previously starred on NBC's short-lived sitcom The New Normal and guest-starred on Glee.

Jordan, who announced earlier this month that she will be leaving the show, and Leakes were involved in a much-publicized feud on the series. "I won't miss the negativity," Leakes tells People. "I think some of the girls will be happy [that I'm leaving]. They always felt like I was the star and they were never able to really shine with me there, so here's their opportunity to shine."

Will you miss NeNe? Do you think Real Housewives will be the same without her?

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