Martha Madison, who has played Days of our Lives' Belle Black Brady on and off since 2004, is once again taking leave from Salem.
The news was first reported by tvinsider.com, in an exclusive one-on-one with the departing actress. The announcement was made a little over 19 years after the actress made her first-ever appearance on the soap.
The fan-favorite commemorated that date on August 10 on Twitter, thanking fans for her DAYS journey and confirming the exit.
"Feels like yesterday and a million lifetimes ago all at the same time," she posted. "Thank you to all the fans who supported me on my bumpy journey through Salem. It was a wild ride."
Since DAYS tapes months in advance, Belle will continue to be featured through November, though Madison shot her last scene earlier this spring.
"I was surprised to hear I was leaving, too!" she told TV Insider. "Actually, I wasn't. Albert [Alarr, the then-co-executive producer] called me the day before the renewal was announced to let me know that they decided to write me off the show again. I asked why they chose me, and he said it was budget-dictated. He told me specifics about how they were going to send my character off, and then I thanked him and wished him well, and that was that."
A Daytime Emmy nom for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Madison has had some meaty stories throughout her years as Belle, but it looked like once the show's writers moved on from E.J. (Dan Feuerriegel) and Belle, there wasn't much for her to do lately.
"I think the fans found it intriguing, and Dan and I had a lot of fun doing it," Madison said. "He's both a fun and a serious actor. That's a great combination to have. I thought it was a perfectly designed story that unfortunately didn't get to play all the way out. I got great feedback when we were shooting it, but then, all of a sudden, it was wrapped up in one episode."
Of her character, the only child of supercouple Marlena Evans and John Black, Madison said, "Belle was never meant to be a peripheral character."
Looking ahead, Madison would be open to another DAYS return or a gig on another soap, noting that she looks for projects that offer her the chance to play a "compelling character in a fun and collaborative environment."
"I love daytime TV and working in soap operas," she said during the interview. "I'm a huge fan of the genre. I'd be honored to work on any of the shows. I'd just want to make sure it's going to be a dynamic character that would be featured regularly."
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