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Christopher 'Johnny' Daley: From Lime Tree Lane to Kingston Paradise

Christopher 'Johnny' Daley

At age ten, Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley dipped his toe into the theatrical pool and since then he's been splashing around trying out different styles. Daley, now an established actor, radio talk show host and comedian, was brought into the theatre while he was attending HWT Primary. Daley explains that an invitation by Mr. Patrick Phillips, the school's drama teacher  would be the catalyst that sent him into the life dramatic.

The beginnings were decidedly without pomp and pageantry, starting with a simple school play, The Bigger the Cheaper was being entered into the national drama festival. However, Daley’s performance scored him a gold medal as well as a scholarship to the summer programme at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
Michael Abrahams, Daley and Dionne Silvera at the 25th anniversary roast
At Edna, he came to the attention of Melita Adams, who was one of the original writers for the popular television comedy serial, Lime Tree Lane, the show which would gift Daley with the moniker 'Johnny' even over a decade after the show had ended.

Daley recently celebrated his 25 years in entertainment by staging a Roast featuring several of Jamaica’s rising and established comedians. He used the event as a fund-raising mechanism for Half-Way Tree Primary, an interesting move to give back at the time in his life when he is feeling to move on.

"I feel like I'm at a transitional period of my life," Daley confesses.  

He explained that while he remains committed to entertainment, he wants to explore new avenues. Even so, he seems to have never been able to shake the theatrical bug, which sunk its teeth in at primary school.

“After high school, I decided to go into media, I wanted to be a serious journalist, but I felt that something was missing from the performance side,” Daley explained. In the ensuing years he would do much to explore that aspect of his life. He would team up with fellow Drama School graduates Donald ‘Iceman’ Anderson and Mark Danvers for One Pack a Crackers.
Daley and his TV 'grandmother' Dorothy Cunningham
Then in 2000 he joined the cast of the Jambiz International production Oliver’s Posse. Daley spent 3 years working with Jambiz International also performing in Oliver and the Genie and finally Cindyrelisha and the DJ Prince.

"I enjoyed those years," he admits. "That company is an excellent Jamaican theatre company. They're very dedicated to the craft."

For the past two years, the majority of his theatrical forays have been with another theatrical company, Stages. Daley declares however does not mark him as having departed from traditional theatre.

"We do label some writers and producers as roots," he says. However Daley explains that sees no split between the two, and notes that although often decried, "roots" theatre attracts much larger audiences than traditional theatre being able to gather crowds of 2000-3000 people.

"I've enjoyed my foray into roots and that's probably because of the stand up," Daley says.

Recently, he added another first to his resume, having gained his first starring role in a film, tackling the lead role in Mary Wells' Kingston Paradise. The film has been about six years in the making, finally making its world premiere earlier this year in Canada at Caribbean Tales where it copped the Audience Award. The film is yet to be screened in Jamaica, and Daley confesses that (up to the time of the interview) he had not yet seen the complete work.
Daley in Kingston Paradise written and directed by Mary Wells
"I'm anxious and excited like every body else,” he says of the wait for Kingston Paradise to make its Jamaican debut. “It was six weeks of intense work and it really seeing what an Hollywood actor would experience.”

At present, he explains that he is continuing work on his radio show on Portmore’s Sun City but is looking forward to remain in entertainment while trying new things.

“I plan to continue acting on stage and film. That's not gonna stop any time soon. I also want to dabble in writing and directing,” he says. “I'm not gonna allow anyone to box me in. I think this is the age for that now.”