"The season was very personally challenging for me."
The 52-year-old reality star announced Tuesday night she would not be returning for Season 5 of the Bravo series, which she helped launch in 2016, so that she could better focus on her family, friends and philanthropic work.
"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 told PEOPLE.
"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," she 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."
Locken received backlash for Season 4 after making comments about Mexican people and her Mexican co-star, Kary Brittingham.
During a December 2019 episode, while Locken and her co-stars were in Thailand on their cast trip, Brittingham suggested they all go see a "ping pong show" in Bangkok's red light district.
Once Locken and Westcott were in the privacy of their hotel room, the former went in on Brittingham, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico. "Do you have any clue how many sex workers we just looked at?!" Locken shouted at Westcott. "That f--king c--t wants to prove how f--king tough she is 'cause she's from México!" Locken put on an accent as she said the name of the country.
"I didn't know what it was," Westcott maintained, as Locken fired back, "I know, but the little chirpy Mexican has to have her way, and so she drug everyone there. 'I'm so great! Mexico! I'm from Mexico! I can kick anybody's ass!'"
Locken continued to make troubling remarks throughout the episode, telling Stephanie Hollman what she wanted to say to Brittingham: "Come on, Mexican! I thought you were all Mexican and strong!"
She later defended her stance by saying, "I don't care that you're Mexican. I've slept with plenty of Mexicans, by the way. Hot f--king lovers, okay? I sat in Julio Iglesias' lap." The singer-songwriter is actually Spanish.
After the episode aired, Locken issued an apology, stating 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."
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