After breaking the news of her departure to PEOPLE, the reality star took to Instagram to thank her fans directly

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated June 30, 2015 09:40 AM
Moses Robinson/Bravo

As she’s arguably the biggest star of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, NeNe Leakes‘ departure from Real Housewives of Atlanta in advance of its eighth season has been a bitter pill to swallow for her fans.

But how did her cast mates, who she told PEOPLE “will be happy” now that they have an “opportunity to shine” with her gone, react?

Kenya Moore was the first of the RHOA ladies to respond on social media to Leakes’ departure. When asked by a fan if she was glad to hear the news, Moore answered with three nail-painting emojis. (As any emoji scholar knows, the nail-painting emoji is the shadiest of the emojis, second only to the tea emoji.)

Though she’s moving on to bigger things, this moment is bittersweet for Leakes, too. The 48-year-old reality star took to Instagram on Monday night to thank her fans directly for their support over the years and to express how difficult the choice was for her to make.

“This is so hard for me to type! I cry as I do so,” she wrote. “I am so grateful for all the love and laughs! Thank you so much to everyone that has watched and supported me over the years on this amazing platform!”

“With lots of thoughts and prayer,” she added, “I’ve decided to step out on faith and not fear.”

Leakes broke the news of her departure to PEOPLE on Monday, revealing that she’ll soon be starring in “a new prime-time television show with a big legend.”

RELATED: NeNe Leakes Quits RHOA: ‘I Feel a Weight Has Been Lifted’

“I feel a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders,” Leakes added. There were times when I was a target. I won’t miss the negativity.”

However, the door is open for Leakes’ return should she so choose. Bravo’s Andy Cohen Tweeted on Monday evening that Leakes is “always welcome back to the house she helped build! She’s a Real Housewife forever!!”