Nene Leakes Announces Departure From 'RHOA'

Entertainment | Camille Travis | 06/30/2015 | 08:30 AM EDT

Leakes: 'This is my opportunity to spread my wings and do different things.'

An era has ended: Nene Leakes has announced she's leaving "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" after seven seasons on the show.

The reality star and actress shared the news with PEOPLE on Monday as casting rumors continue to swirl about the upcoming season. Leakes said it was time to move on from the series to pursue other projects.

"This was definitely a hard decision for me," she said. "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."

Leakes has been with the show since its inception in October 2008 and was the only remaining housewife who had been there since the beginning. Her witty one-liners and top-notch shading skills quickly made her a fan favorite and the highest paid cast member on the show.

Of course, this won't be the last we see of Leakes. She told PEOPLE she would probably "pop up and play with [the "RHOA"] girls every now and then" and will also be on the small screen very soon.

"I'm actually going to be doing a new primetime television show with a big legend," Leakes continued. "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 says she begins filming the television show this week.

Bravo has yet to announce the finalized cast for season eight of "RHOA," but says the details will be coming soon.

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(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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