Emmy Rossum will not return forĀ Shameless' tenth season, and fans are wondering if the decision is related to her very public fight for equal pay
Showtime Emmy FYC screening of Shameless at the Linwood Dunn Theatre, Hollywood, CA, USA - 24 May 2018
Credit: Eric Charbonneau/REX/Shutterstock

After nine seasons playing Fiona Gallagher on Shameless, Emmy Rossum announced she will not return for the tenth season of the series. Though the actress made no claims that her compensation affected the decision, her previous fight for equal pay has viewers questioning her reasoning for departing the show.

Rossum, 31, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday that she’d be leaving the show that provided her with “real connections, real friendships that bring us back season after season after season” and that her departure was “hard to put into words, feelings.”

The Phantom of the Opera star added, “See, in real life, unlike Fiona, I’m an only child. I never had a big family. Being ensconced in that messy Gallagher family love is something I’d always dreamed of. But even off set, it feels real. We’ve watched the kids grow up into the strong, talented, independent human beings that they are.”

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Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher
| Credit: Chuck Hodes/SHOWTIME

She also praised her character, calling Fiona “layered and dynamic … fierce, flawed and sexually liberated,” before concluding, “I know you will continue on without me, for now. There is much more Gallagher story to be told. I will always be rooting for my family. Try not to think of me as gone, just think of me as moving down the block.”

RELATED VIDEO: William H. Macy on Defending Emmy Rossum’s Fight for Equal Pay: ‘It’s a No-Brainer’

Back in 2016, Rossum famously went head-to-head with the show’s producers over her salary, which forced the network, Showtime, to delay renewal of the eighth season.

Rossum is the show’s female lead, but was paid less than her male counterpart, William H. Macy, who plays Fiona’s absentee father, Frank. For the new season, Rossum wanted to make more than him to compensate for seven years of lower paychecks.

The 75th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony - Show
Emmy Rossum
| Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty

Rossum admitted, though, that the disparity made sense at the show’s beginning because she was less famous than 68-year-old Macy, who is an Oscar-nominated actor. Plus, Shameless was her first TV series.

But after a few years, Rossum said at the 2017 Vulture Festival, “the leadership started to feel somewhat shared … I loved the show, I loved everyone in it, I wanted to keep doing it, but I just wanted it to feel right.”

“Playing Fiona Gallagher has been one of the great privileges of my life,” she tweeted. “I’m so happy to continue w my SHAMELESS family! Back to work in May!”

William H. Macy
| Credit: Ari Michelson

Macy, who Rossum said was a major source of support during salary discussions, has spoken openly about the issue, as well.

“It’s a no-brainer,” the actor told PEOPLE Now in November about if Rossum deserved equal pay. “It’s just sort of obvious. Emmy is in most of the scenes, she works harder than anybody else, she’s a brilliant actress. She’s the glue of the cast.”

Macy also spoke highly of the production crew involved in the negotiations.

“I love working for Showtime and [showrunner] John Wells,” he said. “Let’s just be honest about this — it’s their job to get the actors for as inexpensively as possible, and it was a healthy go-around … They’re great men and women that I work for, and they do the right thing.”