LeeAnne Locken Is Leaving Real Housewives of Dallas After 4 Seasons: 'It's Been an Amazing Journey'
One of The Real Housewives of Dallas‘ most recognizable stars won’t be returning for the show’s upcoming fifth season.
LeeAnne Locken, who has been a full-time cast member on the Bravo series since its premiere in April 2016, has exited the show, PEOPLE can exclusively report.
“The last four years have been a trolley-slapping good time but after much consideration, I have made the personal decision to step away from RHOD,” Locken, 52, said in a statement.
“Getting to share my wedding with the viewers last year brought me tremendous joy, however, the season was very personally challenging for me,” she continued. “I am looking forward to stepping away from the cameras and spending quality time with my husband and friends, traveling, but most importantly, getting back to philanthropy, which was my main reason for joining the show.”
“Thank you to everyone who has laughed and cried with me along the way,” Locken added. “It’s been an amazing journey, and yes my pantyliner is still exhausted. There are so many exciting things on my horizon that I can’t wait to share with you.”
Prior to her days on reality TV, Locken had a long history in the entertainment industry.
The Texas native spent her childhood and adolescence working in the carnival circuit alongside her mother every summer. From there, she launched herself into a successful career as a model, even landing a spot in the top 10 in the 1989 Miss USA Pageant. In addition to modeling, Locken found gigs as an actress. Among her many television projects were a series of commercials and guest roles on GCB and Walker, Texas Ranger.
She also famously starred on the big screen alongside Sandra Bullock as one of the beauty pageant contestants (Kelly Beth Kelley, a.k.a. Miss Nebraska) in the 2000 comedy Miss Congeniality.
As herself, Locken hosted a number of shows, including Firehouse Cooks (2006) and Luxury Dallas (2012). She competed in season 2 of She’s Got the Look, TV Land’s reality competition series about the search for the next great supermodel 35 years or older, placing third in the series. And she appeared on season 2 of the Style Network’s Big Rich Texas, a show that followed five wealthy Texas women and their daughters.
On RHOD, Locken gave the show some of its most talked-about moments thanks to her bold personality and fiery temper.
In season 1, Locken got into a heated argument with her costars at a charity event that ended with her knocking a cameraman out of the way (and a slapping a passing trolley car) before taking off barefoot down the street. The scene undoubtedly put RHOD on the map, becoming as synonymous with the show as Teresa Giudice‘s table flip is to The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Other verbal spats over the years involving Locken led to some of the most famous quotes lines in Housewives history, including “My weave is exhausted,” “Bitch, you and I ain’t never gonna be friends” (which came with a notable glass break), and “They’re just hands, but they work quite well” — a line that surfaced during a hot mic moment.
But they haven’t all been that dramatic. In season 2, Locken and longtime love Rich Emberlin, 57, got engaged, with the couple of over 10 years walking down the aisle two years later in an extravagant and romantic wedding. The episode, which aired in November during RHOD‘s fourth season, ended up being the season’s highest-rated.
Locken has also been outspoken about mental health, opening up about her own issues with depression and suicide that began at a young age, in the wake of a recurring and traumatic sexual assault by the hands of a family friend.
She’s used her platform on the show to highlight her other philanthropic efforts, spreading awareness about AIDS activism, LGBTQ issues, animal rights and the dangers of sexual trafficking.
This past season of RHOD, Locken was in the hot seat after making racially insensitive comments toward her castmate Kary Brittingham during a group trip to Thailand.
At the RHOD reunion, Locken took responsibility for her words — which included calling the Mexican-born Brittingham a “chirpy Mexican” — and vowed to never say them again.
“I know every bone in my body, and I know I don’t have a single bone that believes in discrimination,” Locken said. “I believe in inclusion.”
“I am deeply sorry to those that I have hurt or offended with some of my comments,” Locken also said in a statement. “It was never my intention to hurt anyone and I will use this as a learning experience to be more aware of my comments in the future. My commitment moving forward is to continue my work fighting for equality and acceptance of all humans.”
She and Brittingham have since reconciled.
Season 5 of RHOD is expected to begin filming soon. Bravo has no official word on casting.