Gabrielle Union
Actress Gabrielle Union attends Being Mary Jane LA Press Event at Eric Buterbaugh Floral on July 12, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. Getty

Fans of BET drama Being Mary Jane have been left heartbroken after the network announced that it would not be renewing the show after four seasons.

The series, created by Mara Brock Akil, first aired as a TV movie in 2013 and centred on the life of a successful African-American daytime TV anchor, Mary Jane Paul, who juggles her career with relationships and family. It was hailed for constantly pushing the envelope and tackling issues of race, police brutality, classism, blackness and homosexuality.

Connie Orlando, EVP and Head of Programming at BET Networks, said in a statement that they would be closing her journey with a two-hour movie that would "blow fans away". It is scheduled to air in 2018.

After the cancellation news broke Gabrielle Union, who has played Mary Jane since the show's inception, took to Instagram to thank fans for their unwavering support in an open letter, promising to give them a befitting end.

"We have all worked so tirelessly to bring you a show that we could be proud to be a part of. Mary Jane has become my favourite character. We've screwed up together, laughed together, evolved together, and raised hell together," she wrote.

The 44-year-old star, who recently opened up about her fertility struggles, went on to state that playing Mary Jane made her more "forgiving of others who are imperfect and on the journey of self-discovery and improvement".

She continued by telling her 8.9million followers that the " Being Mary Jane family cannot wait to bring you this final 2-hour series finale movie that will answer all your questions about each and every character. More than anything, however, we want to thank you with every fiber of our being for faithfully watching the show and supporting our work... from the actors, writers, producers, directors and enormous crew over the years, we are humbled and we remain grateful."

Speculation is now rife that the cancellation may have something to do with Union's wage dispute with the network last year. In October 2016, she sued BET for $1m, claiming they had breached her contract by trying to expand season four to 20 episodes, but Union argues they have a verbal agreement for each season to carry 13 episodes only.

BET hit back in a statement: "While we hold Gabrielle Union in the highest esteem, we feel strongly that we are contractually well within our rights and are committed to reaching a swift and positive resolution in this matter."