Leslie Jones. Picture: Bang Showbiz

Leslie Jones has confirmed she is leaving "Saturday Night Live" after five years.

The 51-year-old comic has confirmed recent speculation she is to step down from the programme after five years and paid tribute to showrunner Lorne Michaels for helping to "change [her] life" and making her a "better performer".

She wrote on Instagram: "Yes, it's true I am leaving 'Saturday Night Live'. I cannot thank NBC, the producers, writers, and amazing crew enough for making SNL my second home these last five years. 

"Lorne Michaels, you've changed my life in so many ways! Thank you for being my mentor and confidant and for always having my back. You not only have my loyalty but you have my heart!! You have shown me skills I never imagined I had. I leave a better performer because of you.(sic)"

The "Ghostbusters" actress went on to praise her co-stars, including Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Colin Jost and Cecily Strong and admitted she will "miss" them all very much.

She continued: "To the incredible cast members: I will miss working, creating and laughing with you. I will miss holding it down with Kenan everyday, I will miss Cecily's impression of me making me laugh at myself often, I will miss Kate's loving hugs and talks when I needed. And of course Colin, you porcelain-skinned Ken doll. I will miss all my cast mates!! 

"Especially being at the table reads with them!! Everyone needs to know Leslie Jones couldn't have done any of the things I did without these people.(sic)"

Leslie concluded her heartfelt statement by praising the fans of the sketch show.

She wrote: "One last thing - to the fans - you are the BEST!! Thank you for all the love and support through my SNL years and I know you will be as excited as I am when you see some of the amazing projects and adventures that I have coming up very soon! Love you all!! #iamnotdeadjustgraduating.(sic)"