Leslie Jones Breaks Silence on SNL Exit: 'I Am Not Dead - Just Graduating'

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Exiting Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones is breaking her week-long silence.

In a lengthy statement released early Tuesday via social media, Jones confirmed, "Yes it's true I am leaving Saturday Night Live," before adding, "I cannot thank NBC, the producers, writers, and amazing crew enough for making SNL my second home these last five years. Lorne Michaels, you've changed my life in so many ways! Thank you for being my mentor and confidant and for always having my back. You not only have my loyalty but you have my heart too! You have shown me skills I never imagined I had. I leave a better performer because of you.

"To the incredible cast members: I will miss working, creating and laughing with you," she continued. "I will miss holding it down with Kenan everyday, I will miss Cecily's impression of me making me laugh at myself often, I will miss Kate's loving hugs and talks when I needed. And of course Colin, you porcelain-skinned Ken doll. I will miss all my cast mates!! Especially being at the table reads with them!! Everyone needs to know Leslie Jones couldn't have done any of the things I did without these people.

"One last thing," Jones added, "to the fans - you are the BEST!! Thank you for all the love and support through my SNL years and I know you will be as excited as I am when you see some of the amazing projects and adventures that I have coming up very soon! Love you all!!"

Jones then ended the statement with the hashtag, "#iamnotdeadjustgraduating."

An SNL staple since 2014, Jones - whose departure from NBC's late-night institution was announced last week - has twice been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards, in 2017 and 2018. She's also an Emmy nominee this year for co-writing the lyrics to "Upper East Side," a song featured in SNL's 44th season.

Jones' additional TV acting credits include roles on ABC's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, NBC's The Blacklist, Hulu's The Awesomes, Comedy Central's Workaholics, and FX's The League. Jones also hosted the 2017 BET Awards, and contributed to NBC Sports' coverage of the 2016 and 2018 Olympic Games in Rio and Pyeongchang, respectively.

She recently inked a deal with Netflix to headline her own stand-up comedy special for Netflix, dropping sometime in 2020. She has also signed on to host an in-the-works reboot of the classic game show Supermarket Sweep.

As previously announced, SNL will kick off Season 45 on Sept. 28 with Zombieland's Woody Harrelson serving as host (his fourth stint as headliner). Billie Eilish will be the musical guest.

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