Maureen Lee Lenker
June 15, 2017 04:49 PM

A version of this article originally appeared on EW.com.

Aisha Tyler is leaving The Talk after six years.

“I just realized I had to let something go,” she said on Thursday’s episode, shaking and fighting back tears. “And it’s been the hardest decision of my life because you guys are my family and I love being with you every day, you know that… Our friendships are so precious to me, and the thing I’m going to miss most is all of the time we get to spend together when we’re not on camera.”

Her co-hosts — Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, and Sheryl Underwood — comforted her as she continued the emotional announcement. “At the end of this season I’m going to be leaving the show,” she said.

Tyler reflected on the “amazing” six years they’ve shared, saying, “We’ve had babies and weddings, and you know good things have happened, and you know I went through the biggest breakup of my life with you. I could not have done with this without you. I’ll never be able to thank you guys enough.”

The actress said she made the decision after realizing she was too busy to continue appearing on four television shows and pursue directing, the latter of which is what she “wants to do with the rest of my life.”

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She referenced The Talk’s tendency to joke about her busy schedule — she is as a series regular on Criminal Minds, hosts The CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and lends her voice talents to FX’s Archer — and recent directorial debut with Axis, a film about a drug dealer trying to turn his life around, which won the Filmmaker’s Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival. “I’ve always dreamt of this and I didn’t know how it would go, but it was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said of her time making her first feature. She also cited the success of Wonder Woman and the likes of Ava DuVernay for making her realize “this is a really important time for female directors.”

Tyler reassured the audience and her co-hosts that she would return to the show to guest host and promote her film and television projects. Angelica McDaniel, EVP of daytime programs at CBS, reiterated this in a statement, saying, “Throughout her six seasons, [Tyler] has made incredible contributions and shared personal moments, making our viewers, cast and crew all laugh, cry and think, as a result of her signature wit, intelligence, and openness . . .We love Aisha and she will always be a part of our family, with a seat waiting for her at The Talk anytime she wants to visit.”

It was an emotional exit for the entire The Talk team with many of her co-hosts also crying and offering Tyler support throughout her speech. Sharon Osbourne told Tyler, “I know that your heart will always be here. Your head, your ambition, your desire is somewhere else, but your heart’s here.”

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