Law & Order: SVU Star Confirms Exit with Heartfelt Video

Law & Order: SVU fans were understandably shocked and upset when it was reported that both Demore Barnes and Jamie Gray Hyder would be exiting the series in season 23. The reasoning has not been revealed by the show or Wolf Entertainment, but Hyder did previously confirm the report. Barnes, who plays Deputy Chief Christian Garland on the show, previously wrote a post on social media that explained he was dealing with a death in the family, and that a full statement would be coming at a later date. That date is now here, as Barnes took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message to the fans, his castmates, the crew, and Wolf Entertainment, and during the statement, he revealed that he's still not completely sure why the decision was made. You can read his full statement below.

"Hi everyone, thanks so much for your understanding and patience. I wanted to ensure that I'm able to bring my level best in this statement. To the SVU crew, my castmates, NBC, Wolf Entertainment, and all of you, and yet in the midst of what's transpired there are things I know and things I don't," Barnes said.

"What I know is that it is almost every actor's desired right of passage to appear on one episode of SVU, and yet here I am. I've not only gone on to do more than one episode, but I know I've done it with style," Barnes said. "I also know, now on the other side of our having made it through this past season of filming in the minefield of COVID with fear and without fallen colleagues, that I am honored and proud to have helped this storied franchise bridge its most difficult year in its record-breaking run, and that the show did it with style."

"I also know that I played a significant role in SVU achieving its highest ratings this past season than it's had in several years and that both Garland and I were so very well-loved and embraced by you from day one. I am also so very proud to have portrayed the first black deputy chief in SVU history. I also know I love and respect my castmates. Ice, Pete, Kelli, Jamie, and Mariska, and grateful they love and respect me back. The SVU crew, I'm grateful for you and for your skilled, humble, and steadfast way you led our show from behind and helped the cast and myself shine. The SVU writers room and producers, I loved giving form, and voice, and soul to your words and to Garland. Warren Light and Julie Martin, collaborating and brainstorming with you was a joy and I'm proud of our work and impact. Thank you for your leadership and invitation into your creative process," Barnes said.

"Mariska, for spearheading my shift to series regular alongside Warren, Julie, and Jonathan Strauss, and for your love and generosity on and off camera, thank you. NBC, for giving myself and SVU a coveted primetime slot and launch pad to create, entertain, and amplify the voice of survivors, thank you. Wolf Entertainment, for this that I said to you personally and now say again publically, I know none of this would have been possible had you not signed off on my joining the cast, thank you," Barnes said.

While Barnes is thankful for the opportunity, he also addressed being surprised by the announcement of his departure and hopes Wolf Entertainment continues to give vital voices opportunities moving forward.

"Now, don't get me wrong. Do not hear that I was just happy to be here, that's not what I'm saying. Because while I know you're happy I was here, and I'm happy I was here, I also know you're sad and surprised, and I am too. I don't totally know why this has happened, but, I also know that I hope. I hope Wolf Entertainment's leadership in giving me opportunity to amplify a vital voice in story will result in many studios continuing to open doors of opportunity for others to do the same. This must continue, so please, everyone, continue to do your part to support change and amplify the voices and stories that injustice in its many forms seeks to silence. Chief Garland and I would not have it any other way. I love you all. Thank you for loving me back. I'll see you soon," Barnes said.

What do you think of his statement? Let us know in the comments, and as always you can talk all things Law & Order: SVU with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!