Actress Erin Cahill charms students at Stone Creek Charter and Vail Film Festival | VailDaily.com

Actress Erin Cahill charms students at Stone Creek Charter and Vail Film Festival

GYPSUM — Erin Cahill exudes so much positive energy she makes The Little Engine That Could seem like a total drudge.

The former Power Rangers leader was in town for this past weekend's Vail Film Festival to premiere her latest movie, "Cut to the Chase."

Kate Sheldon, her old friend from their Power Ranger days, is active with Stone Creek Charter School. Sheldon was Nadira, a villain who became good and Cahill's Pink Power Ranger arch nemesis.

Because they've been friends for years, Cahill stopped by Stone Creek Charter School for what she thought was to be a quick hello before head up to Vail.

Not a chance.

Stone Creek students filed in, sat down, watched a clip from an episode featuring Cahill and Sheldon fighting for and against the forces of evil, and started peppering both with questions.

Rolling in the roles

From the moment Cahill sat down in the leopard skin director's chair Friday morning, she owned the place. She was charming and disarming as she targeted every answer straight at the kids, complimenting almost every kid she called on: "I love that jacket!" to a kid in bright green. "I like your glasses," she said to another.

They were excited to learn she starred in a couple Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies. Most of them were familiar with Heather Mosby, her character on "How I Met Your Mother." They knew "NCIS," "CSI" and "House" — TV shows in which she has appeared.

Some students were over the moon to learn she's a character in the video game "Call of Duty."

In "Grey's Anatomy," she had her stomach removed.

"I've made a living crying and dying," she said.

She cries occasionally and well in "Cut to the Chase," especially after she's been kidnapped. She plays a prosecutor (her first lawyer role) who tries to keep her wayward older brother out of trouble, despite his best efforts to get into it. She is kidnapped by her mostly-insane lover, who was supposed to testify against an organized crime boss she was prosecuting.

On the stage at a tender age

Cahill started acting when she was 4 years old, and has appeared in more than 80 movies and TV shows.

She connected with Stone Creek's regular kids because she was one. She grew up in a small town, Stafford, Virginia, and drove a Ford Taurus to high school.

You have to start somewhere. She and Sheldon landed in Los Angeles and started as Power Rangers. They were picked from among "thousands" of girls.

"It was like that show 'Survivor,'" Cahill explained to the Stone Creek students. "People kept getting voted off the island."

It can be impossible to explain why someone gets a part and someone else doesn't. Cahill said she has landed two roles because she has freckles. She lost a role or two for the same reason.

Some roles are more complicated than others. On the TV show "Monk," a speech consumed three pages of dialogue.

So far, one of her favorite jobs was a two-hour TV pilot called "Fast Track," filmed in Germany. Her character was great, and …

"We got to drive someone else's BMW on a race track really, really fast," she said laughing.

Cahill and her fiance Paul Freeman, founder and lead singer with the band The 100 Year War, volunteer extensively and are avid supporters of Free Arts for Abused Children.

"You have to have something outside of acting," she said.

It's not all glamor and greenbacks

"Is it glamorous?" asked Hoyt, a Stone Creek student who wants to be an actor.

Sometimes, Cahill said, it really is about fancy clothes and shiny cars pulling up to the red carpet.

"And sometimes it's heartbreaking," she said.

Sheldon's eyebrows were singed from an explosion in one Power Rangers scene.

Fans can also be a curiosity. Cahill appeared in 44 Power Rangers episodes. One fan showed her a tattoo of Pink Ranger on his arm. Another had a tattoo on her shin.

Stone Creek Principal John Brendza has been through so many years and so many assemblies that he's retiring at the end of this school year. He said this was his favorite assembly ever.

"Who has a really important question? Cahill asked the Stone Creek students.

"Can I have your autograph?" piped up one girl.

"Of course," Cahill answered smiling.

"Are you a billionaire?" asked one boy.

She smiled. "I'm not a millionaire or a billionaire, but I'm doing very well. I'm very grateful."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.