Kathryn Dennis Confirms 'Southern Charm' Exit With Emotional Message

Kathryn Dennis is not returning for Southern Charm Season 9. After reports surfaced earlier this month that Dennis would not return for the upcoming season, Dennis confirmed Wednesday night that she is leaving the hit Bravo series after eight seasons, telling PEOPLE that she is entering "this next chapter of my life, away from the Southern Charm lens."

In a statement to the outlet, an emotional Dennis reflected on the "wild ride" the past several years have been. The Bravo star was just 21 when she began filming Southern Charm, which focuses on socialites living in Charleston, South Carolina, back in its first season, which debuted in 2014. Dennis noted that "in the decade that followed, it's safe to say my life changed in ways I could never imagine. Although Dennis acknowledged that "it hasn't always been easy," she said she is "so lucky to have had reality cameras there, capturing so many moments that I'll never forget (and a few, even, that I'd like to)."

Through Dennis' eight-season tenure on the series, fans have "watched me grow up, become a mom to two amazing children, and build friendships I'll always treasure." The reality TV personality added that "through it all, the love y'all have shown for me not only gave me the strength I needed to tackle it all, but helped me realize that I wasn't alone." Dennis said that she "is so grateful" for the love and support of viewers and fans.

"I'll be carrying that love with me as I enter this next chapter of my life, away from the Southern Charm lens. I'm thankful for Bravo, the producers at Haymaker and my Charleston cast mates for everything," Dennis continued. "And I'm excited for whatever comes next. If it's anything like the last decade, it'll be a memorable ride. LFG [let's f-ing go]."

Dennis' remarks came after speculation about her future on the show came into question. Earlier this month, the Instagram account @QueensofBravo reported that Dennis was fired from the series, with The U.S. Sun later reporting that Bravo did not offer Dennis a new contract, the outlet writing that the star allegedly missed filming on multiple occasions and treated the production staff poorly. On Jan. 10, Deadline reported that Dennis would only be a "guest star" on the upcoming ninth season.

While Dennis has yet to address those reports, she did share an inspirational message, perhaps alluding to her Southern Charm exit. Wednesday night, the Bravo star posted a photo of herself to Instagram alongside a quite from Octavia Butler reading, "In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn." The post came just days after Dennis shared that her "New Year's resolution is to have more hope and channel my grace."