The Countess dishes on her new role.

on Jan 8 - The Dish

When the Real Housewives of New York City returns to Bravo on March 11, fans may notice one star is missing from the first three episodes: LuAnn de Lesseps.

But fear not: the Countess will be featured in Season 6, but she's decided to take on a new role. She'll be featured as a friend of the Housewives this year.

"I'm still featured on the show," she tells E! News. "I'm still very much a part of the show but it's not a full-time thing. It's very engulfing when you're on it. It takes up all your mental and physical energy.

LuAnn says her schedule has been taken up with additional professional and personal pursuits. "I just took an improv acting class," says the Countess, who has had roles on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Royal Pains. "I loved it."

She adds that RHONY has always had a special place in her heart. "It's been part of my life for so long," she says. "I'm really close to the women…I just made the decision to step back so I can spend more time doing my things with business and my family."

How does she feel about her new place among the rest of the 'Wives? "It's a win-win for me."

Watch a preview of the new season below.

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