News that Perez, 50, would be departing the show broke Tuesday after Bill Wolff, the show’s executive producer, told his staff the actress has “decided to leave the show at the conclusion of this season to pursue full time her love for acting.”
On Wednesday, Perez addressed the news after tearfully entering the studio for the last time as The Flamingos’ “Lovers Never Say Goodbye” played.
The audience gave Perez a standing ovation and co-host Raven-Symoné ran to the wings of the set to grab a box of tissues, moderator Whoopi Goldberg told Perez: “This is yours to do, so you go on ahead and do it.”
“Well, you guys all heard it: I’ve decided that it’s time to move on,” she said. “And I will say that today is very bittersweet for me.”
She continued, “I’m excited for what is to come, but I am so sad to leave … especially these two ladies,” Goldberg and Nicolle Wallace.
Perez turned to Wallace, 43, who was also crying, and said, “I want to thank you for your friendship, Nicolle, and your intelligence and your wit and your sunshine.”
Causing even stoic Goldberg, 59, to break down, she continued, “I want to thank for everything – your guidance, your professionalism and most of all your friendship. It’s a dream sitting here with you, and you are truly the captain of the ship.”
After thanking producers and staffers, she acknowledged that this job has been “such a great opportunity to be part of such an iconic show that has opened me up to a broader audience, and I will be forever grateful for that.”
“But the ones that I want to thank the most are the fans,” she said to cheers from the in-studio audience. “It warms my heart. It really does. Every time one of you guys come up to me and say, ‘I love you on The View,’ it just makes my day.”
A comedian at heart, Perez lightened the mood in her thank-you to the Latin community: “It’s a huge honor to be the first Latina on The View. What the hell took you so long?”
After a peel of laughter from everyone, she said, “Your support as a community has really helped me through this year, and I will never forget what you’ve done for me.”
Promising to continue her work for her community and women, as well as her activism for HIV/AIDS, Perez took a deep breath: “Just know that I do not have one regret coming to this show. I would do it all over again. And it’s all because of you, the fans. And please know I will continue being a friend of this show.”
With the audience chanting “Rosie! Rosie!” she added that she’ll be working with ESPN as a boxing commentator and said with a few final tears, Gracias, mi gente, por todo. Por todo, mi gente.”
Once Perez takes her final bow in August, guest co-host Michelle Collins is expected to join the show as an official co-host, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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