Growing up on Lime Tree Lane
Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley
Christopher “Johnny” Daley

The Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment Desk continues with the 18th in its Child Month series highlighting some of Jamaica’s young performers who shot to stardom.

FOR the greater part of a decade, actor Christopher Daley grew up on Jamaican television as part of the sitcom Lime Tree Lane, in which he played the mischievous youngster Johnny.

The programme aired on Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC — later Television Jamaica) from 1988 to 1997.

Daley was cast on the series at 10 years old and recalled the delight he experienced as a youth from Kingston’s inner city being thrust into the spotlight on a nationally-broadcast series.

“I had won a scholarship to the School of Drama and so that summer when I joined the cast of Lime Tree Lane was just a really exciting time. For starters, I had only heard of JBC. So to be in the studios and walking past the personalities and the newsroom was just amazing for this young yute,” Daley told the Jamaica Observer.

The newness of that experience also came with its share of anxiety for Daley. However, he pays credit to the cast and crew of Lime Tree Lane who did their best to allay his fears and treat him with respect.

“The adults who surrounded me made me feel safe with their positive feedback. But it was not only the cast and the crew, it was my community. Interestingly, at the time I lived in a lane and was playing a youngster who lived in a lane. My community was so supportive. I would later realise how much they saw in my example — I was their champion, someone other young residents could look up to. That would eventually grow and very soon it was everywhere I went, not just in Kingston but all over… Jamaica was looking at me and watching me,” he said.

Daley admitted that this pressure often got to be too much. Again, he credited the persons around him who really looked out for his best interest.

“I was surrounded by folks who knew that I needed guidance. People like Dorothy Cunningham [who played his grandmother Miss Zella], she literally took care of me. There were so many nights after rehearsals and taping that she would take me home. She got to meet my mother and was always adamant that school be an important part of my focus,” Daley shared.

He explained that when filming or rehearsals took place on a weekday, there was a routine. He went to studio early and completed all his homework before moving on to Lime Tree Lane.

“This just boosted my time management skills. It never felt difficult; I knew what I had to do. Everybody at the schools I attended while I was on the show wanted me to do well. That kind of support was great.”

But his time on Lime Tree Lane would come to an end before the show closed its run.

Daley said after being on the show for such a long time and growing up, the writers did not know what to do with Johnny, who was no longer a little boy.

When the show eventually ended, Daley said he went through the phase where he no longer wanted to be referred to as Johnny.

“Yeah. There was that period. I needed to define myself and didn’t want people to call me Johnny. It felt like they were locking me in a box. I kept telling people my name is Christopher Daley, not Johnny. I remember some friends pulling me aside and saying that I will just have to embrace it as people are going to associate me with Lime Tree Lane for the rest of my life… I just had to accept it,” he said.

Transitioning from a child actor to an adult was not hard for Daley. He pointed to his association with members of the theatre community who helped him cross that threshold. This would lead to work in commercial theatre productions, film, advertising, promotions on television and radio, and his current iterations as a stand-up comedian.

Daley noted that his eldest son has dabbled in acting, working on a number of television commercials. He had no reservations about guiding his children into the world of acting.

“The one thing I would say is ‘Don’t limit yourself. Don’t be boxed in.’ Jamaicans tend to want to box you in based on the first thing that you do. As a creative individual, be open to exploring all sides and showcasing all that you are able to do,” advised Daley.

Christopher “Johnny” Daley
Richard Johnson

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