LOS ANGELES, March 25 (UPI) -- Shemar Moore is opening up on his surprising exit from Criminal Minds.
The 45-year-old actor explained his motivations in an interview with E! News after announcing he's leaving the CBS police procedural prior to Wednesday's episode.
"I am wanting to see what else is out there for me and what else I'm capable of in my career and also in my personal life," Moore revealed. "I'm looking for balance. I want to fall in love, get married, have kids, travel. I want to walk my dogs more."
"I treat my acting career like school," he added. "The Young and the Restless was high school. I knew I needed to evolve and graduate. And then Criminal Minds has been college ... So now I'm going to grad school or whatever you want to call it."
"I'd seen other actors out there in the business getting these opportunities that I would love a chance," the star shared. "What I'm fighting for in my life, and more specifically in my career, is that shot. I'm very happy with what I've accomplished, but I want to take another step."
Moore played Derek Morgan for 11 seasons and made his final appearance on the series Wednesday. The actor told fans he's "not going anywhere" in his announcement, and later told E! he may return to Criminal Minds in the future.
"Derek did not die," the actor qualified. "I'm not opposed to those doors opening up again. Now, it may not be permanently, and it may not be for a full season, but if there's an opportunity to go back and dance and play, I wouldn't be opposed to that."
Criminal Minds premiered in 2005 and airs new episodes Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET. The series co-stars Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler and A.J. Cook, who reacted to Moore's departure in a CBS video.